‘Dazzling... Profound and urgent’ Observer
‘A book of great maturity, beautifully alive to the fragility of happiness and all forms of violence... Everyone should read Saturday’ Financial Times
Saturday, February 15, 2003.
Henry Perowne, a successful neurosurgeon, stands at his bedroom window before dawn and watches a plane – ablaze with fire like a meteor – arcing across the London sky. Over the course of the following day, unease gathers about Perowne, as he moves amongst hundreds of thousands of anti-war protestors in the post-9/11 streets.
A minor car accident brings him into confrontation with Baxter, a fidgety, aggressive man, who to Perowne’s professional eye appears to be profoundly unwell. But it is not until Baxter makes a sudden appearance at the Perowne family home that Henry’s earlier fears seem about to be realised...
In the predawn sky on a Saturday morning, London neurosurgeon Henry Perowne sees a plane with a wing afire streaking toward Heathrow. His first thought is terrorism especially since this is the day of a public demonstration against the pending Iraq war. Eventually, danger to Perowne and his family will come from another source, but the plane, like the balloon in the first scene of Enduring Love, turns out to be a harbinger of a world forever changed. Meanwhile, the reader follows Perowne through his day, mainly via an interior monologue. His cerebral peregrination records, in turn, the meticulous details of brain surgery, a car accident followed by a confrontation with a hoodlum, a far-from-routine squash game, a visit to Perowne's mother in a nursing home and a family reunion. It is during the latter event, at the end of the day, that the ominous pall that has hovered over the narrative explodes into violence, and Perowne's sense that the world has become "a commuity of anxiety" plays out in suspense, delusion, heroism and reconciliation. The tension throughout the novel between science (Perowne's surgery) and art (his daughter is a poet; his son a musician) culminates in a synthesis of the two, and a grave, hopeful, meaningful, transcendent ending. If this novel is not as complex a work as McEwan's bestselling Atonement, it is nonetheless a wise and poignant portrait of the way we live now.
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A thoughtful, gripping and sensitive novel which explores what it is to be successful, happy and humane, as well as how fragile these attributes are. It's beautifully written, engrossing, insightful and thought provoking.