Tag Archives: Ian McEwan

The Children Act Book Review

Sometimes, the simplest interaction can change our lives in ways that are completely unexpected.

In the 2014 Ian McEwan novel, The Children Act, Fiona Maye is a family court judge who has not one, but two major conflicts in her life.

At home, her long time marriage to her American husband Jack is on thin ice mostly due to Fiona working constantly. At work, the newest case on Fiona’s docket is the case of Adam Henry. Adam is a 17-year-old boy who is only a few short months away from his 18th birthday. He is also suffering from Leukemia. Because he is a Jehovah’s Witness, his religion prevents him from receiving a life saving blood transfusion.

The hospital takes Adam’s parents to court to force them to accept a blood transfusion to save their son’s life. It is up to Fiona to determine what is the best course of action. She visits Adam in the hospital to help her make her decision.  What neither Adam or Fiona know is that this brief encounter will change both of their lives.

I saw the movie last weekend, so then, I could only judge the narrative and the characters based on the film. Now that I have read the book, I still have the same feeling. I was left with the same questions that I still don’t have an answer to.

I recommend it.

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The Children Act Movie Review

When those in the legal field make a ruling, the hope is that is it is clean-cut. Unfortunately, that is not always the case.

In the new film, The Children Act (based on the novel of the same name by Ian McEwan),  Fiona Maye (Emma Thompson) is a judge who is juggling a successful professional life and a crumbling marriage. Her marriage to her American husband Jack Maye (Stanley Tucci) is going down the tubes, mainly due to Fiona’s almost workaholic tendencies. At the same time, she is assigned the case of Adam Henry (Fionn Whitehead), a young man who is dying from Leukemia. Adam’s family are Jehovah’s Witnesses and do not believe in blood transfusions, even if it could save his life.

In order to determine if Adam’s religious beliefs trump the hospital’s decision to force him to take the blood transfusion, Fiona visits Adam in the hospital. Though neither Fiona or Adam know it, this visit will have a profound effect on feelings that neither have truly explored previously.

This movie is amazing. It explores a nuanced narrative with flawed, human characters that anyone can relate to.

I absolutely recommend it.

The Children Act is presently in theaters. 

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On Chesil Beach Movie Review

Young love, as stories and songs have told us, is grand and wonderful.  But even young love can have it’s problems.

In the new film On Chesil Beach (based on the novel of the same name by Ian McEwan), Florence (Saoirse Ronan) and Edward (Billy Howle) are newlyweds in England in the early 1960’s. Married just hours before, they have arrived at the Bed and Breakfast where they will be honeymooning. The film flips between the present at the hotel and the relationship that led to Florence and Edward’s vows.  Both will quickly discover that the idealism of their pre-marriage relationship dissolves into an uncomfortable and life changing wedding night.

This movie is excellent. While some scenes could have been cut down for time, I very much appreciated the dichotomy between the main character’s pre-married life and post-married life. I also appreciated that this film showed the reality of romantic relationships, especially marriage. It takes work to maintain both and sometimes, it’s obvious that two people are not meant to be together, no matter how hard they try to make it work.

I recommend it.

On Chesil Beach is presently in theaters. 

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Atonement Book Book and Movie Review

Ian McEwan’s 2003 novel, Atonement, opens with the following quote from Northanger Abbey:

“If I understand you rightly, you had formed a surmise of such horror as I have hardly words to—Dear Miss Morland, consider the dreadful nature of the suspicions you have entertained. What have you been judging from? Remember the country and the age in which we live. Remember that we are English, that we are Christians. Consult your own understanding, your own sense of the probable, your own observation of what is passing around you. Does our education prepare us for such atrocities? Do our laws connive at them? Could they be perpetrated without being known, in a country like this, where social and literary intercourse is on such a footing, where every man is surrounded by a neighbourhood of voluntary spies, and where roads and newspapers lay everything open? Dearest Miss Morland, what ideas have you been admitting?”

In the summer of 1935, 13 year old Briony Tallis is a budding writer with a vivid imagination. A vivid imagination that works for her writing, but does not work in real life. She witnesses an act between her elder sister Cecilia and Robbie Turner, the son of a servant who was also childhood friends with Cecilia. Not understanding what has transpired between Cecilia and Robbie, she accuses him of rape.

Flashing forward to World War II, Briony is now a young woman. She has begun to comprehend the mistake of accusing Robbie of rape and the effect it has on everyone around her. A third flash forward reveals Briony as an older woman, using her literary gifts to give Cecilia and Robbie the life that she stole from them.

In 2007, this book was turned into a movie with Saoirse Ronan as Briony at age 13, Romola Garai as Briony at age 18 and Vanessa Redgrave as the elderly Briony. Keira Knightley and James McAvoy played the separated lovers, Cecilia and Robbie.

I recommend both the book and the movie. The book is well written. The movie keeps close to the plot of the book and has a very nice cast.

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