Ian McEwan – The Children Act

Some of my favourite books have been written by Ian McEwan, especially Saturday and On Chesil Beach. The Children Act is another fairly short one, but it’s a book that packs a fair amount of power.

Fiona believes she’s bringing some sort of reason to desperate situations. She’s a top High Court judge dealing with some particularly stressful cases. The focus of The Children Act is on the case of Adam, a young man refusing medical treatment on religious grounds. It’s down to the court to decide whether they should step in to ensure he gets the treatment against his will.

While all this is happening Fiona’s marriage appears to be in pieces, her husband claims to love her but is putting forward the idea of having an affair. She’s made to feel like she’s brought this on herself as she’s too immersed in her work. It makes for fairly cold reading, as relations become increasingly frosty and her husband lays the blame at her door.

Fiona wants to get to know Adam a bit better, to find out his mentality before reaching any decisions. He’s almost 18 but has been brought up with this religious mentality and she needs to be sure he’s the driver of his decision. She’s offering him an alternative, a mindset removed from the religion and Adam is certainly appreciative of someone taking this level of interest in him.

This is not a perfect book by any means as the two stories don’t flow just as well as I would’ve liked, but the moral dilemma of the situation and the eventual outcome makes it a worthwhile read and certainly another very good addition to McEwan’s excellent cannon of work.


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