NOW A MAJOR MOTION PICTURE
'I cannot remember the last time I read a novel so beautifully written or utterly compelling from the very first page' Bill Bryson, Sunday Times
Ian McEwan is the critically acclaimed author of seventeen books. His first published work, a collection of short stories, First Love, Last Rites, won the Somerset Maugham Award. His novels include The Child in Time, which won the 1987 Whitbread Novel of the Year Award; The Cement Garden; Enduring Love; Amsterdam, which won the 1998 Booker Prize; Atonement; Saturday; On Chesil Beach; Solar; Sweet Tooth; The Children Act; and Nutshell, which was a Number One bestseller. Atonement and Enduring Love have both been turned into award-winning films, The Children Act and On Chesil Beach are in production and set for release this year, and filming is currently underway for a BBC TV adaptation of The Child in Time.
The stunning beginning of McEwan's latest novel delivers a vivid visceral jolt: six men run across a verdant English field, each bent on rescuing a man dangling by a rope from a helium balloon while a small boy cowers in the basket, about to be swept away. One of the would-be rescuers will become a victim instead, falling to his death. But the tragedy is just the catalyst of what will be another one of McEwan's (The Child in Time) eerie stories of bizarre events and personal obsessions. As always, his work is imbued with a mounting sense of menace as the unthinkable intrudes into the everyday. Narrator Joe Rose is astonished, then repelled, then deeply frightened when one of the men, an unstable, delusional young man called Jed Parry, sees the incident as fated, a divine command to him to bring Joe to God. The tightly controlled narrative charts Joe's psychological disintegration as Jed stalks him with accelerating frenzy. Jed's mad demands feed into Joe's sense of guilt about his behavior during the fateful afternoon and his frustration with his career as a science writer. The ultimate casualty, after two more violent events occur, is Joe's relationship with his lover, Clarissa, a professor and expert on Keats. McEwan wrings wry meaning from the contrast of poetry and science, the limitations of rational logic and the delusive emotional temptations of faith. As he investigates the nature of obsessive love, McEwan takes some false steps in explaining Clarissa's misperceptions of Joe's behavior, somewhat lessening his story's credibility but not its powerful impact. Perhaps it is this lapse that persuaded the Booker judges not even to nominate the book, touted by the British press early on as a sure choice for winner. Whatever its limitations, however, the tightly controlled narrative, equally graced with intelligent speculation and dramatic momentum, will keep readers hooked. First serial to the New Yorker; author tour. (Feb.)
"Utterly compelling" Sunday Times "Hypnotically readable" Sunday Telegraph "Taut with narrative excitement and suspense" Sunday Times "A plot so engrossing that it seems reckless to pick the book up in the evening if you plan to get any sleep that night" -- A. S. Byatt Daily Mail "He is the maestro at creating suspense" New Statesman
In this novel, touted as the often unnerving McEwan's most accessible yet, what starts out as a tragic accident during a hot-air balloon outing becomes a full-scale thriller.