Book Review: The Children Act

My book club just finished our read for May, The Children Act by Ian McEwan, and we had a chance to sit down earlier today to discuss it. And it seems like we may have picked up a few new book club members today, so the discussions may get more interesting!

The Children Act is about a High Court judge in the UK, Fiona Maye, who specializes in family law cases. One case in particular is about whether a boy nearing the age of majority has the right to refuse a blood transfusion due to religious reasons (the boy and his parents are Jehovah’s witness). The decision that Fiona makes in this case sets the tone for the rest of the book, and sets her on a dangerous path.

There is a clear irony as Fiona is presiding over family law cases, making judgements on the marriages and parenting of others, while at the same time she is dealing with her own marital crisis and realizing that her window of opportunity to have a child may have passed.

Some of the book also features Fiona reflecting on her life and what she has accomplished as her sixtieth birthday is approaching. Fiona is portrayed as a very calculating woman, focused on her work, but McEwan begins to peel away at her past. The reader begins to learn about her childhood spent playing with the nurses at the hospital and her teenage years spent in Newcastle with her cousins.

Overall I thought that Ian McEwan’s writing style was amazing. I would call it very elegantly written. Without giving too much away, I was generally disappointed with the ending. Near the end of the book, my feminist views came out, and it became clearly apparent to me that a man had written the book. At our book club meeting, I expressed my many feminist perspectives on the book, and was able to persuade my fellow members of McEwan’s tendency to make Fiona into a guilt-ridden mess, while the male characters were forgivable and never had to explain themselves for the wrongs that they had done.

In terms of writing style, McEwan deserves an A+. However in terms of storyline, he sort of lost me near the end so I give him a C. Overall our book club gave the read a 3/5.

I am on to next month’s book club read, Moriarty by Anthony Horowitz. We are scheduled to have another meeting around the end of June, so stay tuned for a review.

Also as I have said before, I am committed to reading one book a week starting now and at the end of each week I will share my thoughts with all of you. For this week’s read, I will be reading Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn. It has been on my To Read in Future list for awhile now, so I am excited to finally get to it. Check back in next Friday for my review.

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