I realise that I have been most remiss and not updated this blog for a while. My defense?  Partly that life has been incredibly busy recently and partly that I’ve been reading some non-fiction. However, I did read Ian McEwan’s Saturday a couple of weeks back.

Saturday by Ian McEwan

The novel is set in central London and, like Virginia Woolf’s Mrs. Dalloway, covers the events of just one day; in this case, Saturday, 15 February 2003. The backdrop to the story is a massive demonstration taking place in London in protest at the invasion of Iraq. Our protagonist is a middle-aged neurosurgeon named Henry Perowne, an intelligent and calm man, who is looking forward to a family reunion that he is scheduled to host that evening. However the quiet order of Henry’s private life gets rudely interrupted by unforeseen events.

McEwan is superb at drawing an everyday scene and then introducing a single event which has far-reaching consequences. The first chapter of Enduring Love does this amazingly powerfully with the hot air balloon incident, and Atonement offers a slightly more complicated, but equally brilliant turning point when everyone goes out searching the grounds for the twins. In Saturday the suspense is gradually built up over quite a period, however there was less of the surprise factor here as we pretty much know what is coming.

Once again McEwan displays his fine craftsmanship in the minutiae, with every line being well executed. Yet, taken as a whole, I was ultimately slightly disappointed with the novel. It is certainly good and worth a read, but I felt it was somewhat forced in its attempt to present the British milieu circa 2003.

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