Now a Major Motion Picture starring Emma Thompson, Stanley Tucci, and Fionn Whitehead.
One of the Best Books of the Year: The Washington Post, NPR, Vogue, BookRiot
Fiona Maye is a leading High Court judge who presides over cases in the family division. She is renowned for her fierce intelligence, exactitude, and sensitivity. But her professional success belies private sorrow and domestic strife. There is the lingering regret of her childlessness, and now her marriage of thirty years is in crisis.
At the same time, she is called on to try an urgent case: Adam, a beautiful seventeen-year-old boy, is refusing for religious reasons the medical treatment that could save his life, and his devout parents echo his wishes. Time is running out. Should the secular court overrule sincerely expressed faith? In the course of reaching a decision, Fiona visits Adam in the hospital—an encounter that stirs long-buried feelings in her and powerful new emotions in the boy. Her judgment has momentous consequences for them both.
APPLE BOOKS REVIEW
Rich with psychological insight and piercingly beautiful prose, The Children Act is the story of an esteemed family-court judge whose equilibrium is shattered when her longtime husband asks for an open marriage. Ian McEwan—who won the Man Booker Prize with Amsterdam—has a gift for evoking fear, confusion, and other uncomfortably messy emotions. He lasers in on protagonist Fiona Maye’s thoughts as she decides the fate of the embattled young people who come through her courtroom. Anchoring his novel in fascinating details about the law, McEwan also offers intelligent and moving reflections on the complexities of faith and injustice.
The 1989 Children Act made a child's welfare the top priority of English courts easier said than done, given the complexities of modern life and the pervasiveness of human weakness, as Family Court Judge Fiona Maye discovers in McEwan's 13th novel (after Sweet Tooth). Approaching 60, at the peak of her career, Fiona has a reputation for well-written, well-reasoned decisions. She is, in fact, more comfortable with cool judgment than her husband's pleas for passion. While he pursues a 28-year-old statistician, Fiona focuses on casework, especially a hospital petition to overrule two Jehovah's Witnesses who refuse blood transfusions for Adam, their 17-year-old son who's dying of leukemia. Adam agrees with their decision. Fiona visits Adam in the hospital, where she finds him writing poetry and studying violin. Childless Fiona shares a musical moment with the boy, then rules in the hospital's favor. Adam's ensuing rebellion against his parents, break with religion, and passionate devotion to Fiona culminate in a disturbing face-to-face encounter that calls into question what constitutes a child's welfare and who best represents it. As in Atonement, what doesn't happen has the power to destroy; as in Amsterdam, McEwan probes the dread beneath civilized society. In spare prose, he examines cases, people, and situations, to reveal anger, sorrow, shame, impulse, and yearning. He rejects religious dogma that lacks compassion, but scrutinizes secular morality as well. Readers may dispute his most pessimistic inferences, but few will deny McEwan his place among the best of Britain's living novelists.
Customer ReviewsSee All
This book was beautifully written. I enjoyed the thoughts and characters until the author inserted the kiss, it didn't fit and ruined the book for me. I read it completely but was disappointed with that twist in the story, it could have been developed with much more grace and thought and still dealt with the complexity of relationships and perceptions.
The Dead Retread
An attempt to rewrite Joyce's "The Dead" that fails miserably. Sentimental and silly as it tries to be moving and profound.
The Children Act
One of the most moving and well written books I have had the pleasure of reading this year. Ian McEwan has once again shown what prose as an art form was meant to be. This is a novel not to be missed.