Read the child in time by Ian McEwan Online


The Child in Time shows us just how quickly life can change in an instant. Stephen Lewis is a successful author of children's books. It is a routine Saturday morning and while on a trip to the supermarket, Stephen gets distracted. Within moments, his daughter is kidnapped and his life is forever changed.From that moment, Lewis spirals into bereavement that has effects on hThe Child in Time shows us just how quickly life can change in an instant. Stephen Lewis is a successful author of children's books. It is a routine Saturday morning and while on a trip to the supermarket, Stephen gets distracted. Within moments, his daughter is kidnapped and his life is forever changed.From that moment, Lewis spirals into bereavement that has effects on his relationship with his wife, his psyche, and with time itself: "It was a wonder there could be so much movement, so much purpose, all the time. He himself had none."ABOUT THE AUTHORFirst Love, Last Rites was McEwan's first published book and is a collection of short stories that in 1976 won the Somerset Maugham Award. A second volume of his work appeared in 1978. These stories--claustrophobic tales of childhood, deviant sexuality and disjointed family life--were remarkable for their formal experimentation and controlled narrative voice. McEwan's first novel, The Cement Garden (1978), is the story of four orphaned children living alone after the death of both parents. To avoid being taken into custody, they bury their mother in the cement of the basement and attempt to carry on life as normally as possible. Soon, an incestuous relationship develops between the two oldest children as they seek to emulate their parents roles. The Cement Garden was followed by The Comfort of Strangers (1981), set in Venice, a tale of fantasy, violence, and obsession. The Child in Time (1987) won the Whitbread Novel Award and marked a new confidence in McEwan's writing. The story revolves around the devastating effects of the loss of a child through child abduction. Readers may know McEwan's work through these and other books, or more recently through his novel, Atonement, which was made into a major motion picture.ABOUT THE SERIESRosetta presents modern classics from groundbreaking author Ian McEwan, author of Atonement and First Love, Last Rites (among others) in a special collection that offers readers the full-range of McEwan's smart, savvy, and engaging prose....

Title : the child in time
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ISBN : 19285042
Format Type : ebook
Number of Pages : 258 Pages
Status : Available For Download
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the child in time Reviews

  • Cecily
    2019-02-23 02:33

    A superb book about every parent's worst nightmare (a child goes missing), but you don't need to be a parent to appreciate it because it is primarily a story of loss, family (is it a couple, parents and children or a patriarchal institution such as the RAF?), distortions in (the perception of) time and reality, and of growing up and of regressing. Stephen Lewis is a children's author who also sits on a government committee that is meant to produce a handbook on child-rearing - to regenerate the UK. He takes his 3 year old daughter, Kate, to the supermarket, where she is abducted. The rest of the story charts the effects on him, his marriage, his relationship with his parents, and his work. His life is marked by reacting to circumstances rather than instigating things and thus he is even more adrift once Kate is lost.LanguageIt is full of painful ironies (Stephen making policy about parenthood, yet losing his own child, while a friend effectively gains one) and wonderful imagery: * In a lonely flat the "deadly alignment of familiar possessions... the stubborn conspiracy of objects... to remain exactly as they had been".* The committee meeting with "vestigial stateliness and dozy bureaucracy mingling soporifically".* Making love "sleepily, inconclusively".* "The lost child was everyone's property. But Simon was alone."* "Nappies proclaimed from diagrammatic metal trees a surrender to new life."* A mother "whose worrying was a subtle form of possessiveness".* On a train, the “customary search for the loneliest seat”.Contemporary PastIt is set in roughly the present day of when it was written: 1987. It made me acutely aware of how much the world has changed in barely 20 years: there is no mobile phone at a crucial point, public fear of strangers was clearly much less than now, and the tactics of parents and police are very different from the Madeleine McCann case. That made for a rather slippery feel about the period, which fits with the aspects of temporal elasticity that are also hinted at. McEwan does Magical Realism?Unlike other McEwans I have read, this has touches of magical realism (mainly regarding the nature and experience of time) . Time is elastic, capricious, malleable, parallel and relative. There are episodes where it seems to speed up, slow down, or short circuit. A train leaving London travels "from the past into the present" in an architectural but also metaphorical sense and Stephen's parents condense all their history into souvenirs in a single room. Time slows down, cinematically, in a collision, stretches out in an endless cornfield and "time would stop" without the fantasy of her [Kate's:] continued existence". "Duration shaped itself around the intensity of the event". One of the characters is a physicist who explains something of this, but some incidents are neither explained nor, perhaps, explicable.A Sprinkling of Satire?This also has some humorous political satire that I don't associate with McEwan (he "hoped to discover what is was they thought in the process of saying it"), but it works very well.Damp SquibIt would have been a comfortable 5*, but I disliked the ending, so dropped it to 4*. If he were writing it now, I suspect it would end differently.TV Adaptation in 2017I'm looking forward to seeing Dominic Cumberbatch in the title role: CiT on IMDB. I may have to read or skim to book first, to see if the ending is as McEwan wrote it, how I wanted it (eight years later, I don't remember what that was), or something else.

  • Fabian
    2019-03-12 04:05

    Absolute shit. The extra star is for the handsome writerly (Britishy) prose.* Other than that, yup: Shite!Turns out McEwan is the most polarizing writer I've ever encountered. The more stuff of his I read the more I am convinced that someone else wrote the gorgeous epic Atonement, not this classicist douche bag. The dude will let you know which caste he belongs to, it is way above yours. Even the Prime Minister plays a part in our protagonist's "life." Revolting. Perhaps this aspect, my nausea, makes it ART??*McEwan is an obvious mimic of Woolf--with near clinical insights that break narrative credibility and he loves the same story (Saturday, Comfort of Strangers, Enduring Love) about horrendous violent interchanges (fake!) between the rich and members of the general unwashed...

  • K.D. Absolutely
    2019-02-27 23:35

    My fourth book by Ian McEwan. Enduring Love. Amsterdam. Atonement. The more I read his works, the more I get convinced that he is the author who knows how my brain is wired. He knows what I want, what I expect from my reading, how I would like my brain to be stimulated, how to keep me awake and keep on reading till the wee hours of the morning.Reading his books is like drinking a perfect blend: just enough decaf coffee, enough non-fat milk and brown sugar. Those are healthy choices because had I been younger, my perfect author would have been John Green or Suzanne Collins and the coffee components would have been expresso, coffeemate and refined sugar. The taste does shift as people grow older and wiser.This 1987 book is included in the 100 Must Read Books for Men and I used to wonder why. Ian McEwan is not the type of writer like Mark Bowden with his Black Hawk Down or Anthony Burgess and his Junky. McEwan is a sensitive author and his prose, though sexless, would cater more on contemporary readers with discriminating (ehem) taste just like my lady friends here in Goodreads. I am not saying that my taste is already the same as theirs (I am still hoping and trying to catch up) since they've read far more books than I would have wanted to. Back to McEwan.The reason why this book is included in men's must reads is because McEwan puts man into an operating room and slices him up to know what he is made off and bares his soul. Stephen Lewis, a father lost his 3-year old daughter, Kate. Grieving while sitting as a member of a government committee on child care (irony of ironies), he gets delusional and starts to see his young self as a face in the window looking at her young parents. During these delusional moments, he gets to examine his relationship with his parents as a child in time, i.e., young Stephen who does not get old. He also gets to examine his relationship with his wife Julie, his friend Drake and his wife Thelma who is a quantum physicist providing the theories about man's relationship with time. The story is a bit hard to follow if you do not concentrate as the delusional or flashback moments as they seem to be an unexpected reaction of a father when his child was abducted. I mean, at that point when Kate goes missing, I was expecting Stephen and or Julie to do a Beth Cappadora in Jacqueline Mitchard's The Deep End of the Ocean (1996) crying, shouting while running to and fro the hotel lobby where her Ben got lost. McEwan did not spend a lot of time on that and focused on what goes on in the heart of a grieving man. Of course, he did his frantic share of looking for Kate, but McEwan chose to focus on Stephen's self-examination of his life after the loss. The departure to what I was expecting made this book a worthwhile read and Stephen Lewis is one of the must-know and must-appreciate literary characters in man's world. More and more books for McEwan and me.

  • Shovelmonkey1
    2019-03-06 22:08

    Zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz... oh yes, where was I? Mmm, reviewing The Child in Time by Ian McEwan...I remember now. To summarise; an overview of what it is toa) be a childb) have a childc) lose a childd) regress to a child like state (with the finally irony being that once you've gone through the first three and spend a lot of the book daydreaming about what it would be like to get your child back, you choose to ignore and abandon your friend who, for reasons of a personal/mental health/ sexual nature has decided to regress to child-like behaviour including the wearing of short pants but not before producing a government sanctioned idiots guide to child rearing along the way).Yes, yes children are important. They remind us of that on a daily basis. Some do it by screaming bloody murder a lot of the time. Mind you some adults I know scream bloody murder a lot of the time too. Is that a sign of their inner child escaping? My inner child says me no like this book very much (and then threw it on the floor while having a small tantrum).

  • Pollopicu
    2019-02-21 00:23

    Ok, that's it. I'm done with Ian McEwan. This book was total bullshit. This was my third book by the author, and this is why I don't like reading too much by the same writer, especially popular "NYT best-seller" authors. I purchased this book because I thought it was going to be about a three year old girl (Kate) who gets kidnapped at a supermarket while out with her dad. True, McEwan wastes no time in describing the kidnapping in the very first chapter of the book, but after that the rest is about inane shit that has little or nothing to do with the kidnapping, guilt, loss and anguish that would normally occur after such a tragic event. I despised the main character of the book. In true McEwan fashion Stephen Lewis (Kate's father) is a pretentious self-centered snob. There was not an ounce of angst, despair, madness, or desperation you'd expect in a book about a child who has been kidnapped and whose parents are suppose to be in mourning. The story is about Stephen, who often visits his friends in the county. Who btw never bring up his daughter. He also saved a man from a car-wreck, and he's often in a meeting in which child welfare is the topic of discussion. It was a very flat, boring drawn-out story. The chapters were so long... so tedious. It's infuriating to be strung along so many chapters without so much of a mention of what these parents were supposedly going through! It didn't compel me to feel any sympathy for him or his wife. This was one of the worst novels I've ever read.

  • Lauren
    2019-03-08 03:35

    I always have the same reaction to McEwan's books: why does an author who can create passages about human disturbance and misery that ring so true insist upon adding elements into every novel that ring so false? Setting aside his formulaic plotting (barely plausible but not entirely ridiculous tragedy occurs, human relationships suffer - or don't - in the aftermath), why does McEwan throw in government ministers who wear short pants and freeze to death; or possibly-magical religious fanatics; or time-traveling, nearly aborted sons (although you gotta give him credit for spoofing himself in _Saturday_ for that misguided magical realism in _Child in Time_)?McEwan is NOT a magical realist - his realism is too sharp and creditable while his magic is too clumsy and inane. So why disrupt wrenching, moving, difficult stories about the human condition with such silliness?

  • Szplug
    2019-03-19 06:22

    I was steered towards this—my first encounter with Ian McEwan—several years ago subsequent to discovering in an interview with troubled actor Tom Sizemore that he deemed this book one of the greatest novels he had ever read. Since at the time I was personally in a state of mind that allowed me to relate quite sympathetically with his particular struggle against demons, I impulsively purchased a copy of the book later that same day.While I can't agree with him on the novel's relative merit, McEwan's look at both the struggles of a father who holds himself responsible for both the kidnapping (and presumed murder) of his young daughter and the subsequent fracturing of his marriage by the hammers of unreconciled guilt and unresolved grief, and those of his friend, a wealthy politician whose own childhood was abducted by a premature imposition of the demands and responsibilities of adulthood, is a haunting and sparse examination of the burdens of loss.Stephen Lewis, the grieving father, listless and trudging through the days with the aid of the bottle, finds himself (somehow) visiting himself as a lad, reviewing happy days spent with his army father and secret-harboring mother—for in the course of his temporal eavesdropping he becomes aware of the shadow his mother is nursing. Conversely, Drake, his friend, straining under the demands of his position, reverts back to a fantasy childhood wherein all the carefree games he missed out on are recreated; he is humored in his increasingly inelastic delusions by his increasingly concerned wife. Two men, their lives crumbling, seeking solace in their childhood - one making the journey back in time through space, the other through the mind, all in an effort to rediscover those pivotal moments before childhood's end and draw them out, comb them, a deleterious regression to fantasy or a fantasy of penetrating to the essence of a cherished child's life, snatched away in one careless moment, that will forever be frozen in the mind by time's gelid stitching. The supporting cast becomes drawn into these movements as well: Drake's wife's conciliation will lead to estrangment; Lewis' estrangement from his wife will lead to a reconciliation.I have read a few reviews that protested McEwan's sudden interposing of magical realism, the pat resolution; myself, I tend to grant the author a lot of magical leeway, and I thought the ending tied in with Stephen's awareness of his mother's then-painful decision, and that handful of sentences between sundered husband and wife that eased a tremendous accumulation of guilt. McEwan—informed by his ugly real life custody battle with his ex-wife—alternately takes a detached and elegiac tone, and the novel has moments (especially when Stephen mistakes another man's daughter for his own lost child) that are very moving. A worthwhile read, and a fine introduction to this English author's body of work.

  • Bam
    2019-03-04 02:08

    Stephen Lewis, the successful writer of a children's book, has had his life fall apart after the disappearance of his three-year-old daughter. His wife has left him and he faces the daily self-examination of what is left of his life as he goes through the stages of grief. 'More than two years on and still stuck, still trapped in the dark, enfolded with his loss, shaped by it, lost to the ordinary currents of feeling that moved far above him and belonged exclusively to other people.'Just who is 'the child in time?' Is it the daughter who will always remain three years old in her parents' minds/memories? Is it Stephen himself who is stuck in his grief, unable to move on? Is it his friend, Charles Darke, who longs 'to escape from time, from appointments, schedules, deadlines' and be like a child again?McEwan plays with time in this novel--having it slow down on some occasions; in another, Stephen has an experience 'out of time.' Stephen's mother speaks of the timelessness of some long-ago memories which make them seem as fresh as the present moment. The scientific theories of time are explained by a physicist. Stephen wonders does the passage of time make one a grown up?The story does bog down in a few spots but hold on, things get better and the story ends on a hopeful note. I have read several of McEwan's books and always find my patience is rewarded. His writing is so exquisite!#book-vipers-book-hunter: CHILD

  • Luís C.
    2019-03-21 03:27

    I totally adhered and understood the path of this couple completely dilapidated by the death of this child. Guilt, stunning, depression, the desire to get out anyway and indestructible hope of reunion that destroys everything.

  • Shane
    2019-03-07 00:12

    An internal novel that plays on its title: the search for childhood lost or to be yet found, and time moving back and forth in waves, weaving past and present into one tapestry.In typical McEwan tradition, the novel hovers around a singular event - protagonist Stephen loses his three year old daughter in a supermarket -an event that send his marriage and personal life into a dark spiral. As Stephen tries to grapple with his loss and revisits his own lost childhood, his friend and one-time publisher, Charles, gives up the good life of a successful businessman and politician to retreat into the woods in Suffolk and play on tree houses, even visiting prostitutes to have himself spanked by matronly whores. Through their retreat into the past, both discover an immutable truth, which is the moral of the novel: redemption lies in creating,in moving forward, not in retreating.I found the writing was very narrative-focussed and the constant weaving of past and present put me on edge, because I never knew when I was going to be in the past vs. the present vs. somewhere in between. Yet, the prose is elegant and McEwan has the knack of bringing out mood, character and setting in a single complex sentence.There were little asides on the fate of the writer which interested me: writing is deemed a social act in a public medium; writing extends the private life. Charles and Stephen embody this philosophy: the former as the author of a "how to" manual on the raising of children sponsored by none other than the prime minister who has a secret sexual interest in his protégé, and the latter as an author of children's books.And yet many of the elements of the "novel" were missing: Charles' sexual deviancies were "told" to us by his wife Thelma, rather than "shown" to us in his behaviour; the parliamentary committee on children’s issues goes into speeches and moralizing to indicate their stance on the subject they were supposed to address; and Stephen, our narrator, is constantly in his head trying to sort out one scene in his past from another - if he was lost, so was I at times.Having written these kinds of books in the earlier part of his career, I am glad that McEwan is now moving into telling us better stories, with the accent on "story", not "head games."

  • Caidyn (BW Book Reviews; he/him/his)
    2019-03-16 22:27

    This review and others can be found on BW Book Reviews.For children, childhood is timeless. It’s always the present.What a beautiful book to round out 2017. If I don't read any other books past here, I'll be a very happy man. However, this book is also hauntingly sad but beautifully written to the point that you don't want to put it down and yet you want to just to prolong the experience. This is definitely a book that I'd like to own.So, what is this book about, really? I could answer that question in so many ways. For one, it's a story about the malleability of childhood. Another theme is grieving. Another is time, linked closely with childhood in this story. In short, it's a typical McEwan book that tackles multiple themes that don't feel they'll come together and yet they do. And it's probably my favorite by him so far.The main plot follows Stephen and his grieving process after his daughter, Kate, is abducted from a supermarket. His wife and he grow apart rather than come together for their grief, his wife working it out through meditation and he through distraction. The way the story rounded out by the story was gorgeous. Spoilers, so I won't get into it, but I absolutely adored the metaphor surrounding the finish.And then there's another plot with Stephen and his friend, Charles, who is enamored with childhood yet doesn't think he can recapture it, all while trying to desperately find it once again. Time stands in the way, yet childhood isn't a fixed point. Anyone can be a child at any point. I know times where I've recaptured that feeling of awe you feel as a child.All in all, this is one of my favorite books by McEwan. Probably one of his most literary (besides when he tried to retell Hamlet from the perspective of a fetus) with themes, writing, and characterization. Again, one that I'd love to own and one that I'd reread to see if I could glean more from it a second time.

  • Chiamartini95
    2019-03-24 04:06

    Terzo libro che leggo di questo autore e, anche questa volta, sono stata catturata dalla sua bravura. Questa è una storia di dolore, perdita e lutto resa ancora più tragica dal fatto che non parliamo di morte vera e propria ma di scomparsa. Stephan infatti è un famoso autore di libri per bambini quando, in una normale giornata passata al supermercato, perde la figlia Kate. Rapita? Uccisa? Abusata? O semplicemente persa? Queste sono le idee che sorgono nella mente di Stephen e che lo tormenteranno per tutta la sua vita, anche a distanza di anni dalla scomparsa della figlia. Stephan la cerca, la vede nei volti delle altre bambine, ma più passa il tempo e più questa sfrenata ricerca si abbatte come un' ossessione sulla vita di Stephan e di sua moglie. Attraverso la straordinaria prosa di McEwan viviamo insieme al protagonista tutte le fasi che susseguono questo tragico evento, l'incredulità, la rabbia, la ricerca, il dolore e infine l'elaborazione della perdita, tracciando un percorso di ascesa e infine di rinascita.

  • Eℓℓis ♥
    2019-02-23 06:17

    Primo approccio con McEwan, che dire? Questo romanzo mi ha fatto provare tutta una serie di emozioni contrastanti. Ora non mi resta che vedere la trasposizione cinematografica che vede come attore protagonista: Benedict Cumberbacht. *-*

  • Ben Babcock
    2019-02-21 06:23

    Childhood is magical.There is a myth, or at least a misconception, that this is a result of children being innocent. If you have ever been a child, then if you look deep into your heart, you will recognize this as the lie we tell ourselves to conceal the painful truth. Childhood is magical because it is inaccessible. Once gone, it can never be reclaimed, revisited, redone. It is lost to us except through the unreliable route of memories and mementos. Childhood is almost like a separate, first lifetime—a dream of something we did in the past, before we grew up and entered the world of adults.As children, our world is timeless. We perceive the passage of time, the measurement of time, quite differently. Summers are almost infinite stretches of warm days and improvised games. Winters are endless opportunities for snowmen and snowball fights. Time is fluid and flexible: friends forever, then enemies the next day. In the worlds we create in our backyards, it can be the day before yesterday just as easily as it can be years into the future: our narratives are seldom linear; we’ve yet to yield to the adult idea that fiction needs to “make sense”. Make-believe is a process, not a product, and best done when not entirely serious.As adults, we can of course strive to retain some of these qualities. I know many people who possess childlike exuberance, as well as a sense of wonder and imagination that serves them well. I try to keep these qualities too. But unless we take the extreme measure, as Charles Darke does in this book, of opting out of adult society, we can never be children. As adults our lives are relentlessly scheduled: transit, meetings, classes, deadlines, duties, chores. We are, all of us, obsessed with the question, “What time is it?” and have developed ever more accurate and precise ways to measure the passage of time so we always know the answer. One might balk at this characterization, but who doesn’t have to be some place at some particular time sometimes? This necessity to be aware of time is a very adult thing, and it is what separates us from our childhood.The Child in Time puts childhood under a microscope and peers at what separates us from children. Stephen Lewis’ three-year-old daughter was abducted from a supermarket. Years later, he has separated from his wife and finds himself serving on a government committee drafting a report for a new child-rearing document. The British government of the future Ian McEwan imagines is a somewhat paternalistic, authoritarian one: the government knows best. Lewis seems to be sleepwalking through his life, still unable to move on after losing his daughter. He is peculiarly apathetic toward everything: politics, his relationship with his wife, his career as an “accidental” children’s author.Indeed, most of my issues with this book stem from its unremarkable narrative. Stephen Lewis seems to stumble from scene to scene, and with the story slipping from his past to the present without much knowledge, it can get confusing. His walk is largely aimless, for he does not seize upon a purpose or a desire until the end of the book. Meanwhile, most of the interesting things around him are told to us rather than shown. Thelma tells us about Charles, with Charles himself only briefly making an appearance. Stephen tells us about his parents; his mom tells us about Stephen’s conception … there is a lot of dialogue and exposition. I had trouble enjoying this book simply because it feels so bland.But at the same time, there is so much happening! The government wants to release a creepy child-rearing manual that’s supposed to restore the morals of the nation. Beggars can get licenses to beg and must wear badges identifying them as such. Stephen’s best friend, Charles, resigns as a Member of Parliament so he can become a recluse seeking to recapture his lost childhood. (Although Thelma eventually explains the reasons, I didn’t find it entirely satisfactory.)I guess The Child in Time is a fairly interesting smattering of ideas, all of which have something to do with childhood. There is a sense of regret over the loss of childhood, whether it is through maturity or through abduction. There is the difficulty associated with recovering from that trauma, the tension between Stephen and his wife Julie that finally crystallizes and shatters in the novel’s final pages. The ending of this book is really good—disproportionately so compared to the rest of the story.Like so many other books, The Child in Time falls into that uncomfortable category of books that have some merit even though, alas, I didn’t really enjoy reading them. I can see why others would, but for reasons related to McEwan’s style and characterization, the greatness of this book eludes me.(Also, I couldn’t stop thinking about Stephen Lewis as I read this.)

  • Robert Beveridge
    2019-03-19 02:07

    Ian McEwan, THE CHILD IN TIME (Penguin, 1987)Something happened to a number of bang-up in-for-the-kill horror writers in the early to mid eighties. I'm still trying to figure out what. Patrick McGrath, who'd given the world some of its most wonderfully gut-wrenching tales in _Blood and Water_, started writing slick, witty novels that came to just this side of horror. Clive Barker started writing fantasy. Anne Rivers Siddons gave us one of the definitive modern haunted house novels and then started churning out "women's novels."And then we have Ian McEwan.McEwan's first novel, _The Cement Garden_, is one of the most unpredictably horrific novels in the last half-century. It's a thing of absolute beauty, comparable to Koja's _The Cipher_, Deveraux's _Deadweight,_ and a handful of other horror novels that push the envelope so far that the reader will have second thoughts about ever reading another novel by the author. Then McEwan dropped out of sight for a while, released a second novel I haven't been able to track down (so this transformation may be earlier than I suspect), and finally got major-label recognition with this, his third full-length offering.The Child in Time is the story of a couple whose daughter is abducted in broad daylight in a crowded supermarket. The two of them react differently to the disappearance as time goes on with no ransom note, and the inevitable breakup occurs. We phase in right there, not long after the breakup, and follow the husband, Stephen, as he tries to put his life back together while simultaneously watching his best friend come apart.I want to savage this book. I want to get McEwan back for taking one of the most promising careers in horror fiction and turning it into a career writing slice-of-life novels that culminated in a Booker Prize. But I can't do it. The Child in Time is in no way a horror novel, ofcourse, and it doesn't really classify as a mystery, but it's certainly not a slice of life novel. It combines drama, a little mystery, and a sense of the detached in much the same way as Graham Swift's masterwork, Waterland. And it's quite readable. But fans of earlier McEwan will always be waiting for the shoe to drop (preferably weighted down with something, and on someone's head to make that satisfying splattering noise)... and it never does.It's good for what it is, I just wanted it to be something else. And I can't fault McEwan for that. Still, I suggest starting off with The Cement Garden to get the full view of McEwan's considerable writing power before taking on this much more minimal work. ***

  • Barbara
    2019-03-23 04:27

    A routine, but joyful trip to the supermarket ends in tragedy. Steven Lewis's three year old daughter, Kate has disappeared from his side during a brief lapse of his attention.This book deals with the deep emotional turmoil and sorrow which he and his wife, Julie attempt to endure and to continue their existences following this loss.Although at times the narrative seemed to drag and cause me to question the direction McEwan had taken, further analysis following my reading proved that it was quite evident. He adeptly conveyed to the reader the deep sense of loss and mourning for Kate's family.The title, The Child in Time" relates to much symbolism throughout the novel. Kate's embodiment, as time goes on,is of the eternal three year old. Yet Steven begins to picture her at different ages and tries to glean some comfort from this. He also thinks of his parents and how he is their child. They, in turn, often view themselves as the young, courting couple prior to his birth. Also as the novel progresses,the concept of a child's relationship to time is questioned and explored. Of equal importance, McEwan portrays how heavily the hours and days pass for the grieving parents.McEwan has drawn his characters vividly. Repeatedly throughout he was able to demonstrate how events alter people in many ways. The final pages successfully conclude this sensitive, emotional and insightful tale.

  • Stef Smulders
    2019-03-12 06:08

    Three and a half stars. For a large part very convincing, the horror of losing your child and the effect on the marriage of the parents is described in painful detail. But there are elements in the story that seem too artificial. What does the futuristic, Orwellian type of society have to do with the story? And the entire story about the Darke character? And the mysterious hallucination of Stephen in which he ‘sees’ his parents in the moment when they decide about his fate as a yet unborn child? McEwan is playing around with ideas from the physics of time here but not in a very clear way.

  • Tony
    2019-03-14 02:13

    THE CHILD IN TIME. (1987). Ian McEwan. **.I never thought I’d rate a book by this author as low as this, but here it is. Frankly, I had to put it down at about page 100, never to be picked up again. I think I know what the author was trying to do, but I’m not sure I could explain it to anyone else. It’s a novel about time, and it’s fluidity. It is set in a slightly dystopian future that mimics the realities of our present time. England has a female prime minister, who, though not named, has the characteristics of one we are familiar with. The antagonism between Russia and the US has reached a fever pitch over a fight between athletes that started at the Olympic games. The marriage of our protagonist, Stephen Lewis, is breaking up. The main wedge that is being driven into the lives of Stephen and his wife has been caused by the kidnapping of their young girl while Stephen was shopping at the local grocery store. It’s all rather confusing and I didn’t feel compelled to read on. I’m sure that I missed a lot by doing so, but that’s the way it was.

  • Erica-Lynn
    2019-03-08 06:30

    In what might be Ian McEwan’s least-read, but perhaps best novel, The Child In Time, a children’s book author, Stephen, must come to terms with his three-year old daughter’s abduction and, presumably, her death. Complicating this heart-breaking situation is Stephen’s wife Julie, who has hermited herself away in the countryside, and the fascinating and surreal parallel stories of Stephen’s own childhood, and that of his best friends—his publisher and his wife, a physicist. “The child in time” is not merely a title or a play on words, but also describes the seemingly shifting forces of time and experience itself, and how one child lost in time might shift the timeframe of others. Beautifully concise, perfectly worded, heart-wrenching, subtle, avalanching and, at last, imbued with hope, this is perhaps the work that first marks McEwan’s celebrated later novelistic style (Atonement, Saturday).

  • Ethan
    2019-03-22 06:26

    Beware: this review contains some spoilers (although if you're thinking of reading this book for the plot, you should look elsewhere).I have no idea how Ian McEwan did it, but he managed to take a bunch of interesting events (the loss of a child, a car crash, a friend going insane and committing suicide) and make them booooooring. Maybe the writing is absolutely brilliant. I can't tell. The figurative language is okay, the imagery is okay (I've seen far better from populist genre writers), the rhythm is nonexistent (to my tin ear), and it's boggy as hell. How can you make a car crash boring? How much psychological drivel can you add to a 245 page novel? A little bit goes a long way. I burned out.And the ending? Oh, jeez, talk about dumb and laborious. Massively overwritten. It was so bad, I actually laughed.I'm not sure if I'm ever going to read another Ian McEwan book. Maybe Atonement.

  • Lewis Weinstein
    2019-03-23 06:16

    It's not correct to say I finished this book; I just stopped reading. With one exception (The Innocent) I have put down every McEwan book I tried to read. I find his initial premises fascinating, but after 50 pages or so, I start to get bogged down in what I would call "over-writing," by which I mean writing for the author and not the reader. The story becomes relatively meaningless, and even the characters are subservient to the writer's phrase. I'm probably in a minority, but that's my take.

  • Rose
    2019-03-14 04:10

    Every sentence Ian McEwan writes seems to come from a depth of erudition, a richness of experience, an acute perceptiveness. He speaks with the voice of all the British greats, updated and with subject matter appropriate to our times. But he’s definitely canonical. And he’s not afraid to be a bit old-fashioned, to write a story from a single point of view if it suits him. The Child in Time, an early, pre-Atonement novel, benefits from McEwan’s surfeit of talent, his sharp intelligence combined with that dry, ironic humor that convinces you a writer is telling the truth about some people.So I suppose we have no choice but to forgive McEwan when his plots toy with artifice or, in the case of this novel, completely surrender to it. Stephen Lewis, a successful children’s novelist had initially hoped to become a Joyce or a Mann or possibly even a Shakespeare with the story of his hippie travels in the Middle East, which he planned to call Hashish. But somehow he got stuck in his childhood. His publisher, Charles Darke, becomes his friend and so does Darke’s wife Thelma, a physicist, whose profession provides the excuse for much of the speculative thought that gives the novel a flavor of science fiction. Time, we are reminded, is fluid, non-linear, multi-dimensional. Under the influence of its fluidity, and some mind-bending supplied by grief, Stephen is granted a vision of the past, while Charles simply tries to live in it.Stephen grieves because he has lost his daughter – literally lost her, at the supermarket while unloading his cart onto the conveyor. The novel appears to be set in the 1980s, before cell phones, laptops, and well before the U.K. became a surveillance state. One of the novel’s many surreal or dystopian elements includes the fact that there is no Scotland Yard. A three-year old child goes missing, is presumably kidnapped, and after a couple of weeks the cops simply shrug their shoulders and move on to other things. Stephen’s marriage flounders as his wife deals with her grief, and they begin to live apart. He gets a close look at the workings of British politics as part of a strange committee to create a comprehensive plan for the raising of children in a society run by conservatives, i.e., as cold and profit-focused as the Trump administration. Among the many surreal elements is the fact that the Prime Minister has no gender, so we can only assume it’s Margaret Thatcher.The problem is, while Stephen and the lovely and talented Julie grieve, they are perhaps understandably reluctant to ponder the fate of their little girl, Kate. Stephen seems to feel she is simply being raised by another family, people who wanted a cute little girl and decided to pick one up at the market. The deeply horrifying fates of children who are trafficked or brutally murdered are not examined as possibilities, and in a way, the reader is grateful. But it’s a little weird how Stephen and Julie just stop looking and focus on their own emotions. Of course, McEwan isn’t a thriller writer. He just wanted to gorgeously noodle around with ideas about time and new beginnings and a cast of characters with some interesting quirks. You almost get the feeling he had these characters and ideas hanging around, and he just needed a plot to stick them in. So when you finish this book, tell yourself to quit worrying about that three-year-old kid out there, with God knows what happening to her. Accept that she was merely a device to kick off a bunch of interesting thoughts. Ian McEwan was just using her.

  • Gattalucy
    2019-03-15 06:30

    nel dolore, quello vero, si rimane soliMi ha preso meno di Sabato, forse per un ritmo più lento e uno stile meno logorroico, ma mi ha confermato nell'idea che McEwan sia bravissimo nelle descrizioni minuziose di eventi della durata di pochi minuti, che lui sa far ricche di tante osservazione cavillose ma realistiche. Ma bravo anche nel descivere con poche parole un evento, una situazione, un'emozione. Quella partenza poi, con la scoparsa della piccola Kate fin dal principio, che porta l'attenzione non sul dramma in sé, ma sul dolore e la capacità di rielaborare il lutto dei due protagonisti, è una scelta coraggiosa ma che l'autore ha saputo governare ben per tutto il libro. Molte osservazioni sull'infanzia mi hanno fatto sorridere, come quelle sull'attenzione al bambino che è dentro ognuno di noi e che, a volte, ci prende la mano. Un soggetto da approfondire, questo McEwan.

  • Rob
    2019-03-02 04:27

    ****I've tried not to be hugely insensitive, but possibly not succeeded. Given the subject matter I can imagine that this book has touched people, may be beloved by readers, may have helped people out of dark times or just pulled hard on certain heart-strings. I wouldn't want anyone to read me ragging on it and think I'm in any way having a go at people in this situation generally or even the experience readers may have derived from it. This is purely my personal beef with Ian McEwan's book, which I didn't really like at all.****McEwan's writing is as strong and impressive here as it is smug.That probably sounds unfair, but I reckon he's blatantly gunning for that last category. Whether it's his attempt to be the most world-weary kid in school when he mentions politics, his lazy attempt to invoke some nebulous quantum theory to explain why some weird stuff might be going down, swiftly followed by his physicist friend telling him that this is very silly stuff and really this sort of magic doesn't happen, or his casual slapping down of anyone that isn't like Ian McEwan (sorry, I mean Stephen... Lewis?), most memorably the self-satisfaction when he describes the hopelessly naive young novelist, or maybe finally the way he neatly sums up the relationship between the male and female in a knowing way because he, Ian McEwan, possibly speaking as Stephen Lewis, is basically brilliant.It's probably just the mood I'm in, but what I really resent about it is that McEwan does want to have his cake and eat it too. I like the concept, actually, of Kate lost adrift in time (maybe even stolen by time itself), passing through the present just enough to send her former parents doolally. Stephen himself echoes to the past to prevent his own non-existence. Charles is lost in time also. Stephen's parents do battle with their youth still. It's not a subtle theme but it'll do (Obviously, the adult women can't mess around in the time-streams because they are really just mothers and lovers for the male characters to bounce off, but never mind).However, McEwan can't let us have that, because as Stephen Lewis he is far too practical minded and world-learned to believe in that sort of stuff. At every turn he nullifies the action and belief of his character(s) with self-awareness, in particular during the bizarre side-plotting. The whole world is a smorgasbord of incredible things that touch other people deeply and that draw us in just enough for the narrator to snatch them away because PEOPLE LIKE US KNOW BETTER THAN ANY OF THAT.I don't know how Stephen Lewis manages to have the most wonderfully socially agreeable mental breakdown. I guess it helps that everyone in the entire world is a writer because that way they can stay indoors all day terribly miserable and avoid human contact and not hurt anyone else too much. I mean, that one chap did commit suicide from neglect, but it was hardly his fault, he was a nutter and already gone. Even his wife absolved him of guilt. COMPLETELY. CONVENIENTLY. DON'T WORRY STEPHEN LEWIS YOU'RE STILL A SWELL GUY.I don't feel that the main character in a novel has to be a sympathetic one. Usually, I would sooner they transgressed meaningfully. But this dude was a total pain, even allowing for the ghastly pain that surely anyone would feel having lost a child. And that would be appalling. And you know, the result would be a form of discombobulation so dire that you could hardly represent it in a readable novel. It would just be a volume littered with dead-ends and solipsistic soul-searching. It would be a pain to read. It's hard to know, on this basis, whether The Child In Time is a success or not. The criteria are sort of woolly. So all I can say is whether I enjoyed it? Most emphatically not.I guess finally I'd say that I didn't read this book in 1987. If I had, maybe the ending wouldn't be the most ghastly cliché of new life triumphing over death. Maybe this was genuinely a triumph. For me, it just elicited a groan. She was secretly pregnant from their one desperate clinch borne out of grief and confusion. Her regaining of motherhood was sufficient to clear the poison from both their systems and restore Kate's place in time: stone cold dead. Now they can get round to dealing with the new one.And throughout, impeccably nicely written.

  • Celeste - Una stanza tutta per me
    2019-03-12 05:05

    [...]mentre avanzava con tanta furia restava fermo, seguitando a schiantarsi intorno allo stesso punto. E da questo pensiero scaturì una tristezza che non era soltanto sua. Era vecchia di secoli, di millenni. Scuoteva lui e innumerevoli altri, come un vento che passi tra l'erba.Non c'era nulla di suo, non un solo gesto, un movimento, il suono di una voce, neppure quella tristezza, niente che appartenesse a qualcuno.Stephen Lewis è diventato quasi per caso uno scrittore di romanzi per bambini, ha un solido e soddisfacente matrimonio e una piccola bambina di nome Kate, che viene amata e coccolata dai genitori. Mi insegna, chi conosce McEwan, che ad un certo punto qualcosa va storto. E infatti. Quando Kate ha 3 anni viene rapita in un supermercato, e cercata poi ossessivamente da Stephen che tenta di arginare il panico con una caccia ossessiva e impulsiva, mentre la moglie cade in uno stato catatonico di dolore e cecità verso il mondo. La storia si snoda dall'assunto che il tempo non scorra linearmente, che “Avvenimenti simultanei per qualcuno, possono apparire conseguenti per qualcun altro. Non esiste un “adesso” assoluto, universalmente accettato; [...]”. Ciò che esiste è invece il senso di oppressione che si scatena nell'età adulta, cancellando ogni forma e fuga di libertà dell'infanzia.Il tema fondamentale è infatti quello dell'importanza di essere bambini sempre, e non nel modo grottesco e disperato in cui il migliore amico di Stephen regredisce sino a costruirsi una casa sull'albero, ma in modo equilibrato e calibrato. Una vita eccessivamente adulta come una vita eccessivamente infantile non possono che portare alla distruzione. Mantenere nel tempola percezione del proprio sé bambino è un lavoro faticoso ma remunerativo; è infatti l'infanzia l'unico luogo fatato dove il tempo non ha significato. Con la carriera, gli anni corrono via e la tensione aumenta, le responsabilità tirano la corda della felicità che eventualmente si spezzerà.McEwan riesce a intrecciare queste belle riflessioni con un ulteriore snodo significativo, quello dell'essere contemporaneamente genitori e figli, di come tale posizione rimandi all'infanzia e alla maturità al contempo, pur non trovando mai posto insieme. Il tempo stesso occupa un posto davvero significativo tra queste pagine; con la scrittura e lo stile di McEwan sembrano infatti allungarsi a tratti i nostri tempi di lettura e la qualità della concentrazione richiesta, quasi che con le parole McEwan ci indichi ciò che intende dire. Il tempo può scorrere in modo differente. Potremmo forse definire Bambini nel tempo come una specie di storia di rivalsa, di rinascita, ma se è vero che per il protagonista la narrazione ha una qualche sorta di parabola ascendente, tutto ciò che lo contorna scende vertiginosamente verso la decadenza e il dolore. Fondamentalmente è un libro bello, viscerale, duro e impegnativo. Ma remunerativo. Un po' come la costante ricerca di equilibrio tra libertà e responsabilità.

  • Renée Paule
    2019-03-11 02:10

    Excellent book for those who like to read between the lines ... and for those who don't for that matter.

  • Bianca
    2019-03-04 02:31

    I read "Child in Time" by Ian McEwan, and liked it a lot! I cannot, however, pinpoint some exact quotes. The style of writing is fluid and elegant, somehow visceral but also realistic in its condensation and extension of time. And the themes discussed are personal, presented in a crystallizing manner. Sometimes, as a reader, I felt like zooming in to see what happens with a character, beyond time and space, to his/her heart and to all that lies in close vicinity. There is also a constant feeling of pregnancy (as in being heavy with something) and abortion (as in missing something or having lost something), both individually and on a meta-fictional level. The ending is a tour-de-force, like any happy suffering would be.

  • Lori Bamber
    2019-03-14 23:35

    I'd like to think that reading this book is akin to taking a guided tour through Ian McEwan's mind. It is not what I thought - based on the cover material - it is about. It is about the nature of time, and relationships, especially our relationship to ourself. It is about the fact that we know very little about ourself, about the people closest to us (never mind those at a distance) and about what is really going on in our lives. It is about grief, the healing nature of joy, and about the way the mind compensates to avoid what it cannot bear. Ian McEwan is always worth reading, but for me, this book is probably his most challenging and, at the same time, rich.

  • Adrian White
    2019-02-27 00:26

    Closer to early, surreal Ian McEwan than what we've become used to over the past few years and unnerving in the manner of his first short stories. I enjoyed it; I just didn't warm to the tone of his narrator. Interesting that it contains a fantastic set-piece ( a car crash) that is a telling foretaste of the balloon incident in his following book, Enduring Love. And the ending; very human and very emotional.

  • Jo
    2019-02-24 00:07

    This was pulled from a shelf of left-behind paperbacks at the holiday cottage we stayed in. I was intrigued by the blurb. Having your child disappear and never knowing what happened must be the top of every parents nightmare scenarios - and how do you go on? This is an incredible book, deserves the five stars and the prize it won undoubtedly. Did I enjoy it? No. The subject matter is just so painful that even a uplifting ending didn't make it enjoyable.