Ian McEwan

All posts tagged Ian McEwan

Atonement – Ian McEwan

Published August 8, 2018 by bibliobeth

What’s it all about?:

Ian McEwan’s symphonic novel of love and war, childhood and class, guilt and forgiveness provides all the satisfaction of a brilliant narrative and the provocation we have come to expect from this master of English prose.

On a hot summer day in 1934, thirteen-year-old Briony Tallis witnesses a moment’s flirtation between her older sister, Cecilia, and Robbie Turner, the son of a servant and Cecilia’s childhood friend. But Briony’s incomplete grasp of adult motives—together with her precocious literary gifts—brings about a crime that will change all their lives. As it follows that crime’s repercussions through the chaos and carnage of World War II and into the close of the twentieth century, Atonement engages the reader on every conceivable level, with an ease and authority that mark it as a genuine masterpiece.

What did I think?:

I’m so, so glad I made the decision to go back and re-read the books on my favourites shelves alongside a non fiction read and a “main,” read. Atonement is one of my all time favourites and it definitely deserved every single one of its five stars and a spot on the shelf. I don’t keep every single book that I rate five stars – ha, I just don’t have the room sadly! So how does a book end up on this shelf? It has to move me, be memorable and stay with me long after finishing it and finally, it has to be a book I can see myself re-reading again in the future. It’s also a great way of seeing if re-visiting a book after a period of time away from it will lead me to rating it differently and potentially getting rid of it from the shelves – something I was very nervous about! Luckily, Atonement remains both a firm favourite, maintaining its illustrious position and making me consider if I might re-read it again in a few years once again.

Ian McEwan, author of Atonement.

Set just before the outbreak of the Second World War, we are initially following the Tallis family – Briony the youngest, Cecilia the eldest girl and their brother, Leon who is returning with a friend for a rather swanky dinner party at home that same night. The family also have their cousins staying with them under quite unhappy circumstances as their parents marriage is going through severe difficulties. So in order to cheer them up and distract them from the rumours surrounding their parents, Briony (an inspiring and precocious writer) is determined to put on a play she wrote herself. For childish reasons, she might also be clamouring for attention, desperate that her family especially her mother and beloved older siblings, would take pleasure in her talent.

A scene from the movie adaptation of Atonement with Keira Knightly and James McAvoy.

As you may have suspected, Briony’s grand plan doesn’t end up going off to plan and she becomes sulky, distant and incredibly vulnerable. It’s at this particular point of her mood that she witnesses an altercation between her sister, Cecilia and her childhood friend Robbie Turner that she doesn’t help matters by deploying her vivid imagination to mistakenly think of what “might” have been happened. The situation is only exacerbated when Briony comes across a note from Robbie to Cecilia that shocks her to her core and then once more happens upon them in the library alone together. All these little happenstances and coincidences leads Briony to make the most life-changing accusation she has ever perpetuated in her life and permanently alters one man’s dreams and wishes into something a whole lot different. Briony must atone for what she has done but the problem is, can she ever be forgiven?

Okay, I’ll admit….when this book started at first I wasn’t into it at all. I found myself confused as to why this book was so highly rated (by myself as well!) and this was mainly because of the extra slow speed and occasional complexity of the narrative. It is literary fiction at its most beautiful and moments, characters, situations are described so picture postcard perfectly, you might wonder why I hesitated. I DO love all of these things and much more besides, but I felt like if McEwan had threw more weight behind to what was going on with his lesser characters, like the elusive Mrs Emily Tallis and the suffering of cousin Lola Quincey, I would have become invested in the story at an earlier point.

Then THE EVENT occurs. This is when Atonement really starts to hit its stride and I could breathe a sense of relief and wipe an anxious drop of sweat from my brow. One of our main characters ends up in quite a difficult, dangerous situation, fighting overseas as a soldier in France and the things he sees and has to deal with on a daily basis as well as trying to remain alive himself are nothing short of horrific. Briony is back home herself working as a student nurse and attempting to do her part for the war effort but she still cannot stop thinking about the awful things she did when she was a child and begs her estranged sister, Cecilia for contact and a forgiving ear.

I’ve read a few other things by Ian McEwan, some I’ve enjoyed, others I haven’t liked at all sadly, but I honestly think this is his most wonderful piece of writing yet. The betrayal, the secrets, the lives they have had to lead and the guilt and turmoil that follows every single character round is hugely fascinating and occasionally emotional to read about. Short-listed for The Man Booker Prize back in 2001, it was a worthy contender for such a prestigious prize and I really hope, because of this accolade you will be interested to give it a shot if you’ve never read any of the author before. I truly believe this is the most perfect place you could start with his writing but I beg, please push through the slow parts, it becomes an undeniably stupendous novel that I will continue to treasure.

Would I recommend it?:

But of course!

Star rating (out of 5):

imagesCAF9JG4S

Advertisements

Book Tag – Shelfie by Shelfie #7

Published June 13, 2018 by bibliobeth

Image edited from: <a href=”http://www.freepik.com/free-photos-vectors/frame”>Frame image created by Jannoon028 – Freepik.com</a>

Hi everyone and welcome to a brand new tag – Shelfie by Shelfie that I was inspired to create late one night when I couldn’t sleep. If you want to join in, you share a picture (or “shelfie”) of one of your shelves i.e. favourites, TBR, however you like to organise them, and then answer ten questions that are based around that particular shelf. I have quite a large collection and am going to do every single bookshelf which comprises both my huge TBR and the books I’ve read and kept but please, don’t feel obliged to do every shelf yourself if you fancy doing this tag. I’d love to see anything and just a snapshot of your collection would be terrific and I’m sure, really interesting for other people to see!

Here are the other Shelfies I’ve done: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 and 6.

For other Shelfie by Shelfies round the blogosphere, please see:

Chrissi @ Chrissi Reads FAVOURITES shelfie HERE and her Shelfie by Shelfie 2 HERE.

Sarah @ The Aroma Of Books Shelfie 1A HERE and Shelfie 1B HERE.

Dee @ Dees Rad Reads And Reviews Shelfie HERE

Thank you so much to Chrissi, Sarah and Dee for participating in Shelfie by Shelfie, it really means the world to me. Hugs!

Anyway – on with the tag, here is the fifth shelf of my first bookshelf (I’ve chosen to split it up into two separate shelfies because of the sheer number of books, oops!). Here is the back shelf and we’re looking at the middle part of this image.

And here are the questions!:

1.) Is there any reason for this shelf being organised the way it is or is it purely random?

This is another really random one (do you sense a pattern here, like I am the worst library organiser in the world?!). I have got some authors grouped together like my two Kate Morton’s, all my Ian McEwans and a few Jodi Picoults but apart from that it’s incredibly random.

2.) Tell us a story about one of the books on this shelf that is special to you i.e. how you got it/ a memory associated with it etc.

I think I’m going to mention Amsterdam by Ian McEwan. I always think of my boyfriend when I see it. He read this exact copy from my collection years ago, loved it and still begs me to read it. You’ve guessed it, I still haven’t!

3.) Which book from this shelf would you ditch if you were forced to and why?

This is so very hard. I think I would choose The Apothecary’s Daughter by Patricia Schonstein. I haven’t read it yet so I can’t comment on the story but it’s probably the book on this shelf I’m the least excited about. 😦

4.) Which book from this shelf would you save in an emergency and why?

I think that would be The Hundred Year Old Man Who Climbed Out Of The Window And Disappeared by Jonas Jonasson. I’ve been meaning to read it for ages and I think my sister, Chrissi Reads is also eager to read it so I had better keep it safe for her at least! Plus I love the cover, really simple and effective.

5.) Which book has been on this shelf for the longest time?

Girl Interrupted by Susanna Kaysen. I can’t even remember how long this book has been on my shelves!

6.) Which book is the newest addition to this shelf?

I think it’s The Glass Books Of The Dream Eaters by Gordon Dahlquist. I saw it in a Waterstones when browsing with my sister and the title and synopsis really appealed to me.

7.) Which book from this shelf are you most excited to read (or re-read if this is a favourites shelf?)

There’s a lot of books on this shelf I’m excited for but if I had to choose it would be The Hungry Ghosts by Anne Berry. Set in Hong Kong during the Japanese occupation, it sounds right up my street!

8.) If there is an object on this shelf apart from books, tell us the story behind it.

There’s no room for any object on this shelf unfortunately, it’s double stacked as a lot of my shelves are!

9.) What does this shelf tell us about you as a reader?

Like other shelfies I’ve done, I think it demonstrates the variety of genres I enjoy – historical fiction, thrillers, fantasy, literary fiction and contemporary fiction amongst others.

10.) Choose other bloggers to tag or choose a free question you make up yourself.

I won’t tag anyone but if anyone wants to do this tag, I’d be delighted and I’d love to see your shelfie.

 

COMING SOON on bibliobeth : Shelfie by Shelfie #8

The Children Act – Ian McEwan

Published April 8, 2018 by bibliobeth

What’s it all about?:

A fiercely intelligent, well-respected High Court judge in London faces a morally ambiguous case while her own marriage crumbles in a novel that will keep readers thoroughly enthralled until the last stunning page.

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 seventeen-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 readers thoroughly enthralled until the last stunning page.

What did I think?:

I’ve had a bit of a strange relationship with Ian McEwan as a writer. One of my all time favourite books is the gorgeous Atonement (which I’m just about to re-read) but other books that I’ve read by him before I started blogging have left me rather dissatisfied – for example, Saturday and Solar, both of which left me wondering what all the fuss was about. How did The Children Act measure up? Well, it sits itself quite firmly somewhere in the middle. It doesn’t reach the dizzying heights of Atonement but was certainly interesting enough to keep me turning the pages and is a relatively short read at a mere 240 pages. I had some small issues with the characters and the narrative which I’ll go into a bit later but generally, I had a fairly enjoyable experience when reading it.

This is the story of Fiona Maye, a well respected High Court judge who comes up against traumatic circumstances in both her personal and professional life. At home, her husband has just asked her permission to have an affair (whilst continuing to be married to her) and understandably, Fiona has reacted badly to his suggestion leaving their relationship on very fragile territory. At work, she is about to become embroiled in one of the toughest cases of her career when a seventeen year old boy who is critically ill with leukaemia steadfastly refuses to have a blood transfusion that will save his life on the grounds that he is a Jehovah’s Witness and it is against his beliefs. Fiona becomes quite personally invested in Adam’s story as she fights to get a High Court order insisting that his wishes should be over-ruled on account of his being under eighteen. Alongside the stress of her job, her marriage is disintegrating before her eyes and Fiona must decide whether she wants to save her relationship with her husband, Jack as well as Adam’s life.

Personally, I found this novel to have both good and bad parts and even now, I’m struggling to decide on an overall rating. I did find the story fascinating and was intrigued enough as to care about how it was all going to work out for each individual character however I don’t feel there was anything particularly unique within the plot. In other words, I do feel like this story has been played out before by other authors so there was nothing too novel that really shocked me or completely captured my attention. I enjoyed how the author chose to tell The Children Act from the point of view of a woman, and a high powered one at that (thumbs up, Ian McEwan) however, I worry that sometimes she didn’t come across in the best light and left me feeling slightly cold. She was obviously a strong, independent woman and I just wish that she had made firm decisions regarding her marriage and her work that reflected all that strength. Finally, I did feel that Ian McEwan was taking a bit of a pop at religion which didn’t sit well with me. I’m not particularly religious and certainly don’t enjoy being preached at, nevertheless I respect that other people have beliefs and ideals, even if I don’t necessarily agree with them myself.

You might think with all this criticism I didn’t rate this novel at all! However, I did honestly enjoy what the author did in such a brief narrative. The courtroom scenes were particularly fascinating and kept me gripped. I did find parts of it problematic of course, but if I compare it to other novels that I’ve read so far (save for Atonement which is all kinds of wonderful!) I do rate this higher. There is no denying that the author can write beautifully and he does know how to spin a good yarn that I’m certain other people will be fawning over much more than myself.

Would I recommend it?:

Probably!

Star rating (out of 5):

3-5-stars

October 2016 – Book Bridgr/NetGalley/Kindle/ARC Month

Published October 2, 2016 by bibliobeth

kindle

It’s time for another one of those months where I try and get on top of all my review copies from Book Bridgr, NetGalley and author requests! I’m getting there slowly but surely (thanks in part to my new mini reviews feature) and here’s what I’ll be dipping into during the month of October.

Nunslinger (The Complete Series) – Stark Holborn

(copy provided by Book Bridgr)

A Boy Made Of Blocks – Keith Stuart

(copy provided by NetGalley)

The Children Act – Ian McEwan

(copy on kindle)

Small Great Things – Jodi Picoult

(copy provided from Hodder Books)

Six Tudor Queens: Katherine Of Aragon, The True Queen – Alison Weir

(copy provided by Book Bridgr)

The Color Of Home – Rich Marcello – DNF

(copy provided by NetGalley)

 The Chimes – Anna Smaill

(copy on kindle)

Written In Hell – Jason Helford – DNF

(copy provided by publisher/author)

Tastes Like Fear – Sarah Hilary

(copy provided by Book Bridgr)

Why Are You So Sad? – Jason Porter

(copy provided by NetGalley)

My Lovely Bookshelves

Published June 6, 2015 by bibliobeth

photo (2)

Hello everyone, I’m here to introduce my lovely bookshelves. I was inspired to write this post after seeing Cleo’s bookshelves on her blog – please see her post here and she in turn, was inspired by the post on Snazzy Books site. Thanks girls!

How do I organise my books?

I’ve got quite a few places for books to live despite having these two bookshelves which as you can see, are full to the brim. Despite the chaos that you can see, it is organised honest! I have a shelf which is mainly review books by Book Bridgr, lovely authors who send me books etc. I have another shelf for crime/horror/thriller which holds authors such as James Herbert, Dean Koontz, James Patterson, Lee Child, Tess Gerritsen.

photo (4)

The shelf in the middle of the picture are my little Agatha Christie hardbacks which look beautiful and I absolutely love but somehow need to get round to reading!

photo (5)

Favourite authors that appear on my shelf?

Philippa Gregory, Alison Weir, Victoria Hislop, Irvine Welsh, John Grisham, Haruki Murakami, Ben Elton and Ian McEwan amongst many, many others. I even have an entire shelf devoted to the king that is Stephen King.

photo (7)

What books do I have that I want to read soon but haven’t yet got around to?

Ah, these cover a range of shelves! The Quick by Lauren Owen, The Teleportation Accident by Ned Beauman, All The Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr, The Dice Man by Luke Rhinehart, Heart-Shaped Box by Joe Hill, Sacred Hearts by Sarah Dunant and The Ruby Slippers by Keir Alexander…to name a few.

photo (8)

Which books do I wish that were on my bookshelf but aren’t?

This is a tough one. I already feel that I could give The British Library a run for its money. I would love to have first editions of my all-time favourite books like It by Stephen King, Gone With The Wind by Margaret Mitchell and The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle by Haruki Murakami.

Which books on my shelf are borrowed?

I’ve got Chinese Whispers by Ben Chu, Beyond Black by Hilary Mantel and the recent Baileys Women’s Prize for fiction winner 2015 How To Be Both by Ali Smith which I’ve borrowed from the local library.

20439328

Is there anything I dislike about my bookshelves?

That there isn’t enough room! Just look at all the books I’ve had to stack up against the bookshelves on the floor. And then there’s under my bed where I’ve managed to squeeze a few (ok… around thirty/forty). I’ve got some amazing books here that I’m a little afraid that I’m going to forget about because I can’t see them properly in all their glory. At the moment I’m on a book banning buy so that I can try and get on top of my TBR and get the books on the floor and under the bed in the shelves where they belong. It’s hard though, when books come a calling, I want to go a buying!

photo (9)

So there’s a quick gander at my bookish life. Yes, it’s messy and a bit complicated, but I love it and never get bored of rummaging in my shelves. Thanks again to Cleopatra Loves Books and Snazzy Books for the idea for this post and Happy Reading to everyone!

obsession