The Cement Garden

Narrated by: Steven Crossley
Length: 4 hrs and 51 mins
3.5 out of 5 stars (174 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

One of the world's most acclaimed novelists, New York Times best-selling author Ian McEwan has earned the Booker Prize and the National Book Critics Circle Award. After their parents die, four children are left alone in the family house. They are free to live however they choose, but they must preserve their terrible secret.
©1996 Ian McEwan (P)2003 Recorded Books, LLC

Critic Reviews

"A shocking book, morbid, full of repellant imagery, and irresistibly readable." (The New York Review of Books)
"Darkly impressive." (The Times)

What listeners say about The Cement Garden

Average Customer Ratings
Overall
  • 3.5 out of 5 stars
  • 5 Stars
    32
  • 4 Stars
    47
  • 3 Stars
    49
  • 2 Stars
    27
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    19
Performance
  • 4 out of 5 stars
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    40
  • 4 Stars
    27
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    16
  • 2 Stars
    5
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    4
Story
  • 3.5 out of 5 stars
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    20
  • 4 Stars
    21
  • 3 Stars
    28
  • 2 Stars
    9
  • 1 Stars
    13

Reviews - Please select the tabs below to change the source of reviews.

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  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars

One of his best

You have to like good writing. I've been reading reviews of McEwan by people who've been bored. What this is is great writing. If you only like closely plotted thrillers, McEwan is not for you. I've noticed that people who pan him often can't spell. That, to me, is a giveaway. Even those McEwan books I'm not crazy about are better than most books, and I'm an addict of the written and spoken word. My favorite McEwan book is Saturday, by the way. I liked it so much I had to read it in print. Twice. It's his language, his sly descriptions, the patterns in the stories.

8 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars

(Almost) unbearably dark

Deeply dark and darkly deep. Simple and chilling without going for cheap explicit shocks. Reminiscent of "Lord of the Flies" with more sex and less religion. Well narrated with a just-slightly-menacing tone, although he sounds more adult than convincingly adolescent.

5 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    2 out of 5 stars

Not so happy with this one:

This book was difficult to stick with. The plot was thin at best and never really takes an interesting turn. It was predictable and flat, with characters that are not engaging. I found myself not caring what happened one way or another. I think I finished it out of sheer stubbornness...

4 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    1 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    1 out of 5 stars

incest and masturbation degrade into disgust

What could have made this a 4 or 5-star listening experience for you?

different words

What was most disappointing about Ian McEwan’s story?

I love many of Mr. McEwan's books, esp. the Children Act and Saturday. This is his worst, by far. Infantile.

Have you listened to any of Steven Crossley’s other performances before? How does this one compare?

no

What character would you cut from The Cement Garden?

Jack, and Tom

Any additional comments?

I didn't finish it. Too disgusting

2 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars

an uncomfortable and painful story

I found this book uncomfortable, disquieting and painful -- and that is exactly how a reader of this book should feel. The topic of this one is agonizing. And it should be. I see that many reviewers didn't enjoy it, but I did. If a writer creates characters that inspire my empathy and compassion then I will always feel connected to the book.

This book is about four kids -- siblings who range in ages of 6 to 17. The problem is there relationships are marked by incest, which the reader encounters on page 2! They have faced the deaths of both their parents, and decided to bury her in the cellar so that they could stay together. They believed they could hide the fact that they were living together without any guardians.

The missing element here for me is backstory. I wanted to know more about the parents of these kids and how they were interacting with each other. I wanted to know why this family became what it did.

  • Overall
    1 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    1 out of 5 stars

Not my Cup of Tea

The narrator did a pretty good job but many of the situations seemed forced and made sexual for no reason. Things skipped around a bit, which I understand is part of the haziness they experienced. Overall, just not for me though.

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

A little naughty - but good story

I thought the book was probably pretty close to what would actually happen if similar decisions were made by suddenly orphaned children living alone - at least most of it. Narrator was top notch.
~ JTC ~

  • Overall
    1 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    1 out of 5 stars

Disturbing

What would have made The Cement Garden better?

It was a very disturbing story. I fell asleep listening and had a nightmare.

What could Ian McEwan have done to make this a more enjoyable book for you?

Less focus on disturbing sexual themes involving children

What do you think the narrator could have done better?

Narrator was fine.

What reaction did this book spark in you? Anger, sadness, disappointment?

Disturbing feelings

Any additional comments?

The book had a very dark sexual undertone. It was horribly depressing and left me feeling disturbed.

  • Overall
    1 out of 5 stars

What was the point?

The book started out interesting but it went nowhere and it got there fast. It was plodding and it seemed to have no point. I listen to every book that I purchase through to the end, but it was difficult with this one. And then, when it was over, it came to no resolution and seemed to just "stop" (thank goodness because at the end it got REALLY bad). This is one I plan to remove from my player, delete from my library, and hopefully erase from my memory. My only recommendation is to save time by not listening to this. Any book available has to be better than this.

1 person found this helpful

  • Overall
    2 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    1 out of 5 stars

Not My Favorite McEwan

I like McEwan's work much better now that he's getting out of his kinky phase.