The Child In Time – Ian McEwan

child in timeREAD FOR BOOKCLUB

Chosen by Nadine

In a dystopian future a child is snatched during a routine supermarket visit.

♥ “Stephen Lewis takes his three year old daughter to the supermarket one morning. He turns is back for just moments and she is gone. When she cannot be found he must head home to give his wife the news.

“The couple search in agonising fashion. Readers do not need to be parents of three year old daughters to feel the acute pain of these parents poured out on the pages. Their marriage, their lives are strained.

“At the same time Stephen is involved with politics in a slightly dystopian future, responsible for writing a book about child care. There is some kind of subtle time travelling event, which links into the title of the book: examining the timelessness of passing hours spent between a parent and a young child, about the innocence, about the sentimentality of remembering a child at a certain time of their life. About a kidnapped girl who now belongs to that moment of time.

He had been back a thousand times, seen his own hand, a shelf, the good accumulate, heard Kate chattering on, and tries to move his eyes, lift them against the weight of time, to find the shrouded figure at the periphery of vision, the one who was always on the side and slightly behind, who, filled with a strange desire, was calculating odds, or simply waiting.

“It is a very difficult book to read for the searing possibilities of ‘what if’. But it is the haunting nature of it which makes it outstanding. All of us as mothers of young children were affected by this. Especially the line “‘she was a lovely daughter’. There were tears shed! The dystopian future is constructed well, London is a city of unemotional, faceless crowds, and various wars are underway, but it is not too far-fetched so as to distract you from the real story, which is Stephen’s anguish over the abduction. This was an emotional read but one which we can all recognise as a work of genius.”

Published 1987
250 pages

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