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review 2018-08-25 01:41
Life, Death, Love and Trust...
Enduring Love - Ian McEwan

This is the fourth book by Ian McEwan that I’ve reviewed and is the furthest back in his catalogue (1997). Still, the latest read has reaffirmed my belief that McEwan is extraordinarily gifted and a colossus among contemporary British writers. In particular, he has a knack for unpacking a short period, even a moment, in such exquisitely interesting detail that for the reader it can be like savouring a fine wine, with all the complex flavours and tannins schmoozing the palate.

It is not only the description of the situation (beguiling enough), or the intricate meshing of fascinating characters drawn together around a “pinprick on the time map”, but the delicate craftsmanship of the storytelling, the wondrous use of language and turns of phrase, which at times appear almost poetic.

“A beginning is an artifice, and what recommends one over another is how much sense it makes of what follows.” Certainly, in ‘Enduring Love’ the start-point was crucial, an immediate, dramatic incident involving an out-of-control hot air balloon and the individuals arbitrarily drawn together in the aftermath. Indeed, rather like completing a jigsaw, having first assembled the fragments of this centrepiece, the author carefully positions the subsequent pieces, until finally the reader can stand back and view the whole picture. And what a delightful puzzle it was.

Part psychological thriller, the tension was masterfully managed and yet at times the moving descriptions of loss (an attendant theme) were poignant and the realization of life’s susceptibility to the vagaries of random events gave the book a philosophical undertone.

Key couple, Joe and Clarissa, are intelligent but different and their relationship built up over seven years is tested in the present, along with the foundations laid in the past. Can the bond linking them together survive the strain placed on each partner and the doubts buffeting their belief and trust in each other?

“Now it came out in a torrent, a post-mortem, a re-living, a de-briefing, the rehearsal of grief, and the exorcism of terror.”

The third character in an unusual love triangle is Jed Parry. Compulsive and unpredictably obsessive, he is also a victim of circumstance, but with an unnerving capacity to wreak emotional havoc, including with the reader!

Again this book is quite short, but don’t let that fool you, the journey is intense and breathless and my overall impression was of a nugget of a novel, which will nestle comfortably on my shelf of favourites. A cleverly titled, thoroughly absorbing read.

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url 2015-11-15 06:18
A message from Ian McEwan in Paris
Atonement - Ian McEwan
Saturday - Ian McEwan
Enduring Love - Ian McEwan
Solar - Ian McEwan


"The death cult chose its city well—Paris, secular capital of the world, as hospitable, diverse and charming a metropolis as was ever devised. And the death cult chose its targets in the city with ghoulish, self-damning accuracy—everything they loathed stood plainly before them on a happy Friday evening: men and women in easy association, wine, free-thinking, laughter, tolerance, music—wild and satirical rock and blues. The cultists came armed with savage nihilism and a hatred that lies beyond our understanding. Their protective armour was the suicide belt, their idea of the ultimate hiding place was the virtuous after-life, where the police cannot go. (The jihadist paradise is turning out to be one of humanity’s worst ever ideas; slash and burn in this life, eternal rest among kitsch in the next).


Paris, dazed and subdued, woke this morning to reflect on its new circumstances. Those of us who were out on the town last night can only wonder at the vagaries of chance that lets us live and others die. As the slaughter began, my wife and I were in a venerable Paris institution, a cliché of the modest good life since 1845. In this charming restaurant in the sixieme, one shares crowded tables with good-willed strangers, visitors and locals in a friendly crush. With our Pouilly Fume and filets d’hareng, we were as good a target as any. The cult chose the onzieme, the dixieme, barely a mile away and we didn’t know a thing.


Now we do. What are those changed circumstances? Security will tighten and Paris must become a little less charming. The necessary tension between security and freedom will remain a challenge. The death-cult’s bullets and bombs will come again, here or somewhere else, we can be sure. The citizens of London, New York, Berlin are paying close and nervous attention. In January we were all CharlieHebdo. Now, we are all Parisians and that at least, in a dark time, is a matter of pride." 

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review 2015-10-08 08:40
Enduring Love; a huge letdown
Enduring Love - Ian McEwan

I’m a tremendous fan of Ian McEwan’s books (particularly On Chesil Beach and The Comfort of Strangers) but this was a huge letdown. It has a wonderful plot; a couple are on a picnic on a very windy day when they see a hot air balloon that is in trouble. A young boy is stuck inside the basket, his grandfather has fallen out and everyone in the vicinity desperately tries to grab hold before the balloon blows away…


I’m rather partial to literary books but this one felt like it was trying too hard. It came across as a bit pompous in tone, which I couldn’t remember or hadn’t noticed in his other books. It was distracting. The book was strongest when discussing the breakdown of the couple’s relationship (McEwan is really wonderful at nailing human emotions and antagonism between people) but it didn’t deliver on the fear factor that he has really conveyed in his other work.


I very rarely say this but watch the film instead. It’s much better.

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Source: ellenallen.co/2015/10/06/enduring-love-a-huge-letdown
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review 2015-01-27 14:34
McEwan's Enduring Love
Enduring Love - Ian McEwan

This is a brilliant and woefully underrated book.  It's only the third book I have read by McEwan, but I still strongly suspect that it is his masterpiece.  I expected that to be |Atonement which is certainly very good, but this book is better.

It is a novel that is in some sense about the conflict between literature and science, and which takes science's side.  That, of course from a master novelist, is not a simple minded siding, but it is a complex and beautiful one  The book is about the difference between appearance and reality and in particularly, so about how it is possible to get to the truth.  It is also about betrayal, madness and of course love.

I think that it is right on the money about a lot of things  It might seem that the actions of the police and the main character's wife are unbelievable in their willful ignorance, but I think that they are right on the money.  His wife a Keats scholar completely fails to live up to the ideals that she espouses, killing off their love in the process.  I think that in part this is an assault on the literary establishment, which is seen as hypocritical and willfully blind.  I don't want to oversell this interpretation, however, because like all McEwan's works, the story is full of ambiguities.

I think it is a book about the reaction to madness and not to madness, itself.  It is also a book, that thoroughly explores the nature of love, in a at times very cynical way.  Love is something that is endured, more than it is something that lasts.  

Anything, that I might say about this book would be inadequate.  The characters are brilliant, and their voices brilliant realized.  It is a genuinely revolutionary book.  It also walks a precipice and I was unsure where it was going and what exactly was meant to be real at times.  It also, unsurprisingly, has brilliantly written scenes and McEwan plays with the phenomenological aspects of things as he always does.

Like all of McEwan's works it is also obsessed with the tiny coincidences and happenstances that drive human lives off in unexpected directions.  McEwan is obsessed with the contingency of life.

It is the second best book I have ever read by a currently living author.  Its brilliant and clever, the prose is artful, and most of all it is not designed to appeal either to the general public or to the literati.  McEwan is that rarest of things now a days, an author who is completely committed to a vision uniquely his own.

A masterpiece.

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review 2014-03-30 04:06
Enduring Love by Ian McEwan
Enduring Love - Ian McEwan

Enduring Love
Author: Ian McEwan
Genres: British Literature, Contemporary Fiction
Setting: United Kingdom
James Tait Black Memorial Prize Nominee for Fiction (1997)


I have never experienced reading a book that immediately filled me with a sense of foreboding. The beginning chapter of Ian McEwan’s Enduring Love was arresting and thrilling. It starts off pretty innocently: two lovers having a picnic in an idyllic setting. Then the story makes a complete 180-degree turn. What started off as a beautiful and calm day ends up in tragedy. A hot air balloon appears in the sky, obviously in trouble as the wind’s implacable strength raises the balloon up and tosses it around. A man is being dragged with it and a boy is inside the basket. Several men, including Joe Rose, try to hold the balloon down but to no avail. You know something bad will happen and it did. A man dies in his efforts to save someone. This prelude to the novel becomes an uncompromising element for the grim things to come. One of the men who tried to help was Jed Parry. That chance encounter between the Joe and Jed gives birth to a delusional attachment and obsession that will prove destructive not only to Joe but also in his relationship with his wife, Clarissa. Life can change in an instant indeed.


Jed Parry suffers from de Clerambault’s syndrome or erotomania. Someone who suffers from erotomania fervently believes that someone is in love with him/her.

Erotomania is a type of delusion in which the affected person believes that another person, usually a stranger, high-status or famous person, is in love with him or her. The illness often occurs during psychosis, especially in patients with schizophrenia, delusional disorder or bipolar mania.[1] During an erotomanic episode, the patient believes that a secret admirer is declaring his or her affection to the patient, often by special glances, signals, telepathy, or messages through the media. Usually the patient then returns the perceived affection by means of letters, phone calls, gifts, and visits to the unwitting recipient. Even though these advances are unexpected and often unwanted, any denial of affection by the object of this delusional love is dismissed by the patient as a ploy to conceal the forbidden love from the rest of the world. (Source)

His delusions are coupled with personal religious beliefs that are overly zealous. In a series of letters, Jed tells Joe how inevitable their meeting was and how they were meant to be with each other. Aside from Jed’s affections and delusional beliefs about Joe’s motives, Jed also tries to convince Joe to turn to God. Jed becomes a rather frightening entity in the story not because he was violent but because his presence becomes constantly disturbing. He starts to stalk Joe, calls him regularly and writes him letters. He doesn’t yield even if Joe dismisses him. We later find out what stalking and obsession can do to people – how it destroys their lives and even their relations with their loved ones. Joe Rose who has rationalized his way into his many written science articles suddenly feels trapped and confused. He is scared for his life as well as Clarissa’s. The book calls your attention to the dark and haunted mind of a disturbed man. Jed looks rather pitiful and harmless but when you read his letters to Joe, you feel uneasy. You can’t help but expect Jed to turn violent as Joe tries to ignore and avoid him. You keep asking questions. You keep anticipating that worse things will happen. And that’s the genius behind this book – you never know where the story is headed.


That the plot should be drawn out so well and the complexities of the characters be portrayed with beautiful writing is a tribute to the author, Ian McEwan. There are some scientific discussions within the book but it never felt boring or monotonous. He has the uncanny way of making the complex understandable and he wrote these things beautifully. They were quite interesting actually but a little disorienting. Not to blame the author, but perhaps my own mind was at fault. There were some things I absorbed immediately but there were some that I had to re-read in order to grasp what was being said. Surely the author can’t be faulted as many of his works have been praised countless times.


Enduring Love spews ambiguities and contradictions, and gives you an impression of a reality that is undoubtedly twisted, yet Ian McEwan has the ability to use words to portray a tale of haunting qualities that intermingles with the complexities of the characters’ circumstances and the normality of their lives. It is a gripping and utterly riveting book that will make you want to keep turning pages and will keep you guessing until the end.


>> READ THIS REVIEW in my blog

>> READ NOTABLE QUOTES  - Coming soon in my blog

Source: 5eyedbookworm.wordpress.com/2014/02/10/enduring-love-by-ian-mcewan
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