[472]: The Children Act by Ian McEwan

DSC_0800GOODREADS SUMMARY  | Knopf Canada | Hardcover, 240 pages | September 9th, 2014 | Fiction | 4 out of 5 Stars


When I picked up McEwan’s Sweet Tooth, I had a certain expectation about his work. Unfortunately, it didn’t quite hit the mark. This one, however, fulfilled everything Sweet Tooth did not.

Order in the court

Fiona Maye, a high court judge in London has had years of experience and arguable success with the cases she’s presided over. Mostly, she dealt with cases that are of family interest. And each heartbreaking case  typically involve children. Anything that will protect their well being and interest is of the foremost consideration.

One particular case was the focal point of this book, and one that will leave a lasting effect on Fiona. It was the case of a 17-year old boy suffering from leukaemia. He refused the administration of  a blood transfusion, but without it, he will likely die a slow and painful death. The boy is about two months remove from being an adult. And because of this reason, his manner of treatments are left for his parents to decide.

However, because they are a firm Jehova’s Witness , and the very act of blood transfusion is against their religion, the case had to go to due process and had reached high courts.  The doctors treating him could not abide with their request. Because among other things, it is against their Hippocratic Oath.

It is wholly interesting to see how Fiona would arrive at her decision. She spent time with the boy to make sure that he knows what will happen either way. But it is the relationship that she will form with him, and his curiosity with the judge several decades his senior will ultimately be the crux of her guilt.

Disorder at home.

At home, her marriage life is crumbling. In the spirit of honesty, her husband had asked her permission to have an affair (who does that?!).  Stating that she’s become a cold fish, and that she’s put work over him time and time again. He wanted to experience passion in the arms of his much younger assistant.

Fiona is anything but a simpering housewife who will beg a straying husband to come home. However, the readers will see her struggle between the delicacy of the case, and the tumult brought on by her husband’s apparent consideration of her feelings.

This woman is a rock; a rock that’s been battered by the times, and weathered so many storms. Professionally, she carries the weight and responsibility of a decision that could very well ruin or change a child’s life. That alone is enough to keep you up at night. But she is a formidable human being who manages to shrug the troubles of her personal life as soon as she steps inside the court room.

The tip of the McEwan iceberg.

So I see what the big deal is all about. McEwan brilliantly captured the ebb and flow of one woman’s struggle to balance emotions and intelligent thoughts in order to tackle what are to be the biggest fights of her life.

She goes through the pros and cons  in a deliberate fashion while ignoring her need to break down and succumb to an easy decision. She couldn’t even swallow an entire sleeping pill even though all she wanted was to wallow in the bliss of sleep. Aside from the initial explosive, but understandable reaction to her husband’s disclosure, she was even-tempered, mild mannered, and yet remaining passionate about the law and the conflicts of her personal life.

The narrative was pretty simple; a reader will not be beleaguered with legalese and recitations of old cases. He doesn’t even attempt to explain how the British legal system work – for which, I am thankful. Because this book is really not a big book, I’m glad that McEwan dives right into the heart of the story.

My second attempt at McEwan led me to believe that Sweet Tooth was a fluke. With several books in his belt, I’m even more anxious to read more. He tackled the case of a dying boy with such intelligent sensitivity, without being prejudiced against a religion known for being purists.

  • I have this authors name around quite a bit, but not too many reviews. Kudos to you for trying another of his books when you didn’t like the first one. This one also seems like something I might like – law in books always draws me in. And the disorder at home seems like a nice ingredient to the mix. Glad you liked it!

  • Her husband has alot of freaking nerve! But ahhh, I miss reading Adult fiction so much. Sadly this year, my reading has consisted of mostly YA and NA, and I’m so ready to dive back into the complex world of Adults. This story is right up my alley, so I’m definitely adding this to my TBR. Great Review!

  • Sounds like a lot going on that effects her. Haven’t heard much about this one or the author

  • I’m glad to hear that you gave this author a second chance and that you wound up really enjoying it. This isn’t my kind of book, but it sure does sound very intricate!
    Great review!

  • I need this! It sounds completely complex, juggling work where she holds a life in her hands, her failing marriage and just balancing womanhood. My goodness, that husband sounds horrid. Why would he bother staying with her if he wants to shag someone else? Obviously she had an incredibly demanding and even emotional career, and he pulls that shit? Now I need to read this even more, just to see what happens between the two. Already I’m pulling out my misogynist pig banner.

    Incredible review Joy, I can’t wait to grab a copy this weekend <3

  • Awesome review sweetie 😀 You keep reading all these books I have never heard about, lol. But I love that you do. <3 And I'm so glad you mostly loved this book. It do sound pretty interesting 😀 Hoping I might one day want to read books like this too. <3 Thank you for sharing Joy 🙂

  • This book and author are new to me but it sounds like this is a great place to start! I love how intrigued this kept you!

  • Wow. This book sounds incredibly emotional dealing with some of life’s toughest issues, and it sounds like Fiona is incredibly strong in so many ways for being able to cope. It reminds me of the Jodi Picoult books with the legal proceedings as well. Great review Joy!

  • I’ve seen a lot about this authors books, but just haven’t been willing to take the chance of reading one of his books. I normally stick to fantasy and paranormal books. However, I enjoyed quite a few John Grisham books. This sounds pretty good and I think that if I am to take a break from my usual genres I will definitely consider this one! Great review as usual! :]

    • This one is one that you can’t missed, Catherine. The case will pull you in, but her personal struggles will keep you vested in the story even more. I hope you’ll give it a read some time. 🙂

  • It’s the first time I hear about this one but I confess that now I’m curious. It sounds really interesting and I love the idea, I don”t think I’ve read one exactly like that.thanks!