So this might be a weird affectation, but whatever it is what it is. I have zero interest in physically reading Ian McEwan’s books. I tried Atonement, but his writing style does not lend itself to my enjoyment. What I do enjoy is listening to his books. All the beautiful prose, and none of giant, never ending blocks of text.
This tale is a snippet in time in the life of Fiona, a high family court judge in London. At the start, one evening while Fiona is preparing for the next day in court, her husband, Jack, blindsides her by suggesting that he is going to go have an affair as their lives have become stagnated. Fiona gives him the ultimatum to get out if he wants to do this, and tries to go about her daily life. As a judge she decides on the difficult decisions regarding families in divorces, child welfare, etc. Woven throughout her tale of her and Jack is a series of cases she presides over. One in particular is key to this time of her life: she has to decide whether to make a hospital give a young Jehovah Witness a blood transfusion, which goes against his religious beliefs.
This isn’t a long story, but it’s a beautiful one. The cases that Fiona presides over are once in awhile silly (a rock star and his model wife deciding who gets the holiday house in the divorce), but mostly they are devastating and tragic. Separating siamese twins in order to give one the option to live, taking children from parents due to drugs, drink, etc. The Jehovah Witness case gets under both the reader (listener in my case) and Fiona’s skin. I loved how McEwan wove together the play of cases within what was happening in Fiona’s life.
If you’re looking for a good sad, look no further. This one is not remotely uplifting, but if you want a beautifully written, moving story that’s not seventy bajillion pages long I’d definitely recommend this one.