By Ian McEwan
What’s it about?
Joe Rose and his wife Clarissa are out on a picnic when they see a balloon accident and Joe runs to help. A stranger named Jed Parry also arrives at the scene. Something transpires that triggers in Jed an obsessive love for Joe Rose. This obsession will prompt responses from Joe, Clarissa, and Jed that will threaten what they each value most.
What did it make me think about?
What is reality, versus what is our perception of reality.
Should I read it?
This was a very thought provoking novel about the limits of enduring love. Who was seeing the situation clearly? Was each character constrained by their own thought processes? Since the character of Joe Rose is a well-known science writer it also includes some really interesting scientific observations that shed light on the subject. My one critique would be that Clarissa’s version of events did not quite ring true to me. I would recommend this to anyone who is in the mood for a novel that makes you think. Just one more book from Ian McEwan that moves slowly and precisely towards its conclusion.
“I got to my feet. Self-persuasion was a concept much loved by evolutionary psychologists. I had written a piece about it for an Australian magazine. It was pure armchair science, and it went like this: if you lived in a group, as humans have always done, persuading others of your own needs and interests would be fundamental to your well-being. Sometimes you had to use cunning. Clearly you would be at your most convincing if you persuaded yourself first and did not even have to pretend to believe what you were saying.”