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Thank you, Ian McEwan, for writing exactly the book I've looked forward to for many months. Rationalism, science, biology, logic, law, and the absence of unnecessary drama and hyperbole are all things I prize in life, and it was a real pleasure to have them written so incredibly well in the character of Fiona Maye in The Children Act. Fiona is an English High Court judge in the Family Division who must decide the fate of Adam Henry, a 17-year-old Jehovah's Witness who has leukemia and is refusing a life-saving transfusion. Fiona is also dealing with a crisis in her personal life; her husband Jack has announced to her that “I love you, but before I drop dead, I want one big passionate affair.”
Some of the best parts of The Children Act are the beautifully reasoned details of several of Fiona's decisions. In her judgements, she tries to bring “reasonableness to hopeless situations.” Her decision in Adam's case has consequences that affect Fiona's personal life, and part of the miracle of this book is that McEwan writes this human drama without TV movie dramatics or bashing of religious beliefs. This is the first book I've read by Ian McEwan, and I'll approach some of his other books with a bit of trepidation, but The Children Act is about as close to perfection in a novel as I've ever read.
35 of 36 people found this review helpful
STORY (fiction) - I wouldn't put this in the suspense/mystery/thriller category as Audible has. It's a lovely work of character development, set in England sometime probably early 2000's. Fiona is 59 and a high court judge who presides over difficult cases of family law. One such case involves Adam, a boy who will die without the blood transfusion that his religion will not allow. Fiona is overworked and tired...and her husband has met a younger woman.
I thoroughly enjoyed this story, but it may not be for everyone. There is lots of legal discussion as Fiona works through her decisions and talks with other barristers, and there is not a lot of happiness in the story. Adam's case is ethically complicated, and his condition is serious. I'm not saying the book is sad...it's just deep. Fiona's character is exquisitely developed, and I love how the author imparts profound meaning to simple actions and gestures. The ending is very good.
PERFORMANCE - Lindsay Duncan does a great job. She has the perfect voice for Fiona the judge and injured wife, yet, on the other hand, the voice and emotions of 17-year-old Adam.
OVERALL - No cursing, violence or sex. Recommended for listeners who can appreciate beautiful writing and deep characters.
12 of 12 people found this review helpful