For children, childhood is timeless. It’s always the present.
What a beautiful book to round out 2017. If I don’t read any other books past here, I’ll be a very happy man. However, this book is also hauntingly sad but beautifully written to the point that you don’t want to put it down and yet you want to just to prolong the experience. This is definitely a book that I’d like to own.
So, what is this book about, really? I could answer that question in so many ways. For one, it’s a story about the malleability of childhood. Another theme is grieving. Another is time, linked closely with childhood in this story. In short, it’s a typical McEwan book that tackles multiple themes that don’t feel they’ll come together and yet they do. And it’s probably my favorite by him so far.
The main plot follows Stephen and his grieving process after his daughter, Kate, is abducted from a supermarket. His wife and he grow apart rather than come together for their grief, his wife working it out through meditation and he through distraction. The way the story rounded out by the story was gorgeous. Spoilers, so I won’t get into it, but I absolutely adored the metaphor surrounding the finish.
And then there’s another plot with Stephen and his friend, Charles, who is enamored with childhood yet doesn’t think he can recapture it, all while trying to desperately find it once again. Time stands in the way, yet childhood isn’t a fixed point. Anyone can be a child at any point. I know times where I’ve recaptured that feeling of awe you feel as a child.
All in all, this is one of my favorite books by McEwan. Probably one of his most literary (besides when he tried to retell Hamlet from the perspective of a fetus) with themes, writing, and characterization. Again, one that I’d love to own and one that I’d reread to see if I could glean more from it a second time.