Title: The Children Act
Author: Ian McEwan
Type: Stand Alone
Page Count: 221
Publisher: Nan A. Talese
Publishing Date: September 9, 2014
Fiona Maye is a leading High Court judge who presides over cases in the family court. 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.
As many of you know, I work in the marketing department of my local library. This means that I am constantly surrounded by the things I love the most. But for some reason I’d never joined their book club until now.
I picked up this particular book a week before the book club meets for discussion and so I had to take a day to really get through it. It’s an intense read and unlike most novels I read because I normally stay in the science fiction arena.
It’s set in London, but I don’t believe it was confirmed until a quarter of the way through the book. That may have just been my oversight, but the language does give it away rather clearly.
It’s centered around an ambitious, rational judge who seems to have her life completely in order. People admire and envy her. She has a husband who loves her and although childless, she looks out for the welfare of a great number of children. The thing I like most about her is the fact that she’s flawed and she knows it. She’s spent her entire life living in a very controlled way and she is now confronted with several ordeals that demand her to think and act outside of her comfort zone.
Her marriage is falling apart. There’s a brilliant, open, young man clinging to her for help and she must make some hard choices.
Adam is an interest character. It occurred to me early on that his attachment to Fiona would blossom into something extreme. She stripped him of his ego and his religion without giving him something as a replacement. This left him open and exposed to the world while she shuffled back to her sheltered life.
In the end, Fiona makes a major breakthrough in her character development at the expense of someone else. It’s a hard ending to swallow, but it leaves the reader with some very important lessons. There isn’t some major success. Everything moves along a shade of grey from beginning to end, but you are left proud of what she’s come to understand.
I’d say give it a read. It’s very short at 220 pages and the first half of the story spans a couple of days then jumps to several weeks at a time. Having studied Ad & PR law, the legal jargon didn’t bother me as much as it may others, so I would watch out for that.
Thanks for reading,