Book Review: The Child In Time – Ian McEwan

This novel is one of very few the books that I have read with a stunning narrative. Stephen Lewis’ life is fairly good, he has an average kind of existence, but when a terrible event occurs right beneath his nose, his mind shatters and spirals into darkness (in a metaphorical sense, of course.)

On a normal day at the supermarket, Stephen’s 3-year old daughter, Kate, is snatched from right under his nose. Now, I can hardly imagine what that’s like, but I don’t really have to. Stephen explains life from here on, living without his only daughter, in excruciating and disturbing detail. Not only does he lose his daughter, but also his wife. He merely begins surviving. It seems to me that he just gets by, like he has nothing to live for, yet not in a suicidal way.

Time is a key theme in this story, it slows down and picks up on it’s own accord – it can leave you a little confused at times, but not so much that you cannot understand the story. Once you get your head around it, it becomes a more simple to understand and the idea of knowing what he’s talking about becomes plausible; you build your own interpretation. It has the theory that time is flexible, and unstructured – I think. It’s something you need to remember throughout as some events are slowed down so much and others happen so painstakingly quickly!

Charles Darke is another key character in the novel, one of Stephen’s only friends, and plays an intensive part to the plot. Apart from time, the other main theme is childhood – every chapter begins with an extract from The Authorized Childcare Handbook, and for reasons we don’t really know, not until closer until the end anyway. He helps Stephen to become an author and, not by his request, becomes a very successful and controversial children’s author – his book is a message from the adult to their younger self – Lemonade.

What’s interesting about this book is the way that Stephen’s mind accuses him of being weak, he spots his missing daughter in girls that are not her. It’s an interesting book which I would recommend – you must stick with it though, otherwise you’ll lose track. A great book!


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