The Children Act

  • by Ian McEwan
  • Narrated by Lindsay Duncan
  • 6 hrs and 13 mins
  • Unabridged Audiobook

Publisher's Summary

A brilliant, emotionally wrenching new novel from the author of Atonement and Amsterdam.
Fiona Maye is a High Court judge in London presiding over cases in family court. She is fiercely intelligent, well respected, and deeply immersed in the nuances of her particular field of law. Often the outcome of a case seems simple from the outside, the course of action to ensure a child's welfare obvious. But the law requires more rigor than mere pragmatism, and Fiona is expert in considering the sensitivities of culture and religion when handing down her verdicts. But Fiona's professional success belies domestic strife. Her husband, Jack, asks her to consider an open marriage and, after an argument, moves out of their house. His departure leaves her adrift, wondering whether it was not love she had lost so much as a modern form of respectability; whether it was not contempt and ostracism she really fears.
She decides to throw herself into her work, especially a complex case involving a 17-year-old boy whose parents will not permit a lifesaving blood transfusion because it conflicts with their beliefs as Jehovah's Witnesses. But Jack doesn't leave her thoughts, and the pressure to resolve the case - as well as her crumbling marriage - tests Fiona in ways that will keep listeners thoroughly enthralled until the last stunning page.

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful

McEwan has written perfection in this novel.

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.
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- Bonny

Troubled characters, elegant writing...serious

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.

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- AudioAddict

Book Details

  • Release Date: 09-09-2014
  • Publisher: Recorded Books