Together in Spirit

An online reading group ('TIS a reading group!) to bring together friends, and friends of friends, who aren't able to be in a conventional reading group due to constraints of time or geography.

Tuesday, February 05, 2008

Better late than never...

Sorry for the delay in my post on Child in Time. I blame our library and illness in equal measure.
I think I overlap with nearly everyone's views so far on this book. Like Emily I found the opening chapter deeply traumatic to read. Reading about the abduction of a three year old girl when one is the parent of a three year old girl who matched her physical description and interaction with her parents in nearly every way was too emotionally disturbing. Never have I been more grateful for getting my groceries delivered! However, like Emily, I read the last page and decided that it was suitably redemptive enough for me to continue, and I'm glad I did.

I thought the themes were beautifully handled and some of the descriptive passages were exquisite. I would add 'Life and Death' to the other themes surrounding that of Childhood. Kate's was a 'death in limbo', the lorry incident was a 'death escaped', the abortion discussion was a 'death prevented'. Charles' of course was a very real and very physical (the description of carrying the weighty dead body) death. Add to this the final chapter of life beginning and you have a very powerful cocktail. I thought that final chapter was absolutely masterful in it's description of childbirth and that wonderful moment when a baby is born and one basks in the very miracle of it's existence before reality kicks in and all the medical checks are made. I also thought that McEwan had taken us as readers a long way to enable that chapter to be more than a trite resolution to the loss of Kate and make the journey for the characters a meaningful one.

I'm afraid the dystopian future world thing went right over my head. As did the politics. Sorry.

I liked his whole exploration of Time - discussions with Thelma (Valerie, what did you consider "odd"? Her as a character or the existence of female physicists? I have met a number of female physics and therefore did not consider Thelma "odd" in either sense!), Kate as the shadowy child in limbo time, the alternative time/universe of his young parents when his own existence hung in the balance, Charles' desperation to hang on to a time long gone.

I thought this was the best McEwan I have read as there was just so much in it and I felt that he picked themes he really could explore fully rather than just making the most out of very little, which is what I have felt about some of his other books.