Enduring Love; a huge letdown

enduring loveMy rating: 3 stars (out of 5)

I’m a tremendous fan of Ian McEwan’s books (particularly On Chesil Beach and The Comfort of Strangers) but this was a huge letdown. It has a wonderful plot; a couple are on a picnic on a very windy day when they see a hot air balloon that is in trouble. A young boy is stuck inside the basket, his grandfather has fallen out and everyone in the vicinity desperately tries to grab hold before the balloon blows away…

I’m rather partial to literary books but this one felt like it was trying too hard. It came across as a bit pompous in tone, which I couldn’t remember or hadn’t noticed in his other books. It was distracting. The book was strongest when discussing the breakdown of the couple’s relationship (McEwan is really wonderful at nailing human emotions and antagonism between people) but it didn’t deliver on the fear factor that he has really conveyed in his other work.

I very rarely say this but watch the film instead. It’s much better.


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The Comfort of Strangers; no stranger, but still no comfort

the comfort of strangersMy rating: 4 stars (out of 5)

I first read this Ian McEwan book (The Comfort of Strangers) a few years ago and I loved it so much that I wanted to re-read it. Now that I have, I’ve learnt a valuable lesson; you can’t re-read a suspense novel and get the same awful sense of foreboding that I remember having the first time around. I could, however, still appreciate the writing and how he manages to vividly capture familiar sensations: the carefree way you feel on holiday and how that changes your decisions, particularly when you meet new people; and the way couples communicate with each other after years in relationships. It really is a masterclass in writing a suspense novel and it was this book that set me off on an Ian McEwan extravaganza – Atonement, Saturday, On Chesil Beach, Solar, Enduring Love – and made me appreciate what a great author he is. It’s an unsettling book but I just wish I could have felt as scared the second time around…


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