I hadn’t read the last Ian McEwan title, Sweet Tooth, because I really really didn’t like the one before that which was Solar. However I was encouraged to read The Children Act by some people whose views I listen to and I’m glad I did. It’s one of those books about a mature relationship and really, nothing much happens but you are still wanting to find out what the characters, in particular Fiona is going to do. Fiona Maye is a High Court judge, good and committed to her job. Jack, her husband of many years is an academic. They have had many happy years but as Fiona became more and more absorbed in her work Jack feels neglected, particularly with regard to sex. One evening, he declares that because of this, he wants to have an affair, but he wants her blessing to do so. Fiona of course, is aggrieved and though she admits to herself there are some grounds for his feeling ‘neglected’ she is nevertheless not going to approve his behaviour.
Meanwhile Fiona is grappling with several cases where she has to make big decisions with regard to the lives of children. One case is about a divorcing couple disagreeing about the education of their daughters, another is about a 17 year old boy refusing treatment for a life threatening illness on religious grounds. As Fiona considers her judgement, McEwan goes through many aspects of the legal arguments for these cases, which is fascinating. It all rings very true, (I presume he has done his research) and is a glimpse of the complexities of legal opinion.
The Children Act offers a lot, and would be an excellent choice for a book group, as there are many issues to discuss.
Well worth reading. It’s currently in hardback, and is $30