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Saturday, January 20, 2018

Enduring Love (1997) by Ian McEwan


Book Review
Enduring Love (1997)
 by Ian McEwan

  The problem with writing about the books of Ian McEwan is that he specializes in the third act twist, and any casual discussion risks ruining the pleasure the reader might derive from McEwan's expertise in plotting.  Enduring Love, about two strangers, both men, whose lives become intertwined after they jointly witness a horrific ballooning accident, falls squarely into this description.   Joe Rose, 47, a failed physicist and successful writer of "pop science" non fiction, is having a quiet picnic in the countryside with his Keats-scholar girlfriend when they see a hot-air balloon with a small child in the basket, threatening to escape the grasp of the operator.

   Rose, along with several other men in the area, try to stop the balloon from flying away.  One of the would-be good Samaritans continues to hold onto the rope while all the others, including Rose, let go.  The man who remains holding onto the rope plummets to his death from a great height shortly thereafter.  In the aftermath, one of the other witnesses, a sad loner named Jed Parry becomes obsessed with Rose and this obsession drives the rest of the book. 

  The third act twist, when it comes, is as satisfying as any. Reading McEwan is always a pleasure.  His achievement is to write books steeped in dread and bad feeling that are easy and fun to read.  His successful combination of literary function and the pleasures of genre fiction mark all of his books.

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