Book of the Month: The Children Act

Book of the Month: The Children Act

childrenactSome authors have cult followings that await every book they publish and Ian McEwan is one of those writers – he never disappoints his fans with his intense explorations of human character. His latest release, The Children Act, is our October Book of the Month and many book clubs have selected it already. He returns to one of his recognizable themes, pitting science and logic against faith and art.

At the center of this conflict is Fiona Maye, a High Court judge presiding over cases in the family court. She is renowned for her fierce intelligence, exactitude and sensitivity. But her professional success belies private sorrow and domestic strife. There is the lingering regret of her childlessness, and now her marriage of thirty years is in crisis. At the same time she is called on to try an urgent case: for religious reasons, a beautiful seventeen-year-old boy, Adam, is refusing the medical treatment that could save his life, and his devout parents share his wishes. Time is running out. Should the secular court overrule sincerely held faith? In the course of reaching a decision Fiona visits Adam in hospital – an encounter which stirs long-buried feelings in her and powerful new emotions in the boy. Her judgment has momentous consequences for them both.

The epigraph of this novel says, “When a court determines any question with respect to…the upbringing of a child…the child’s welfare shall be the court’s paramount consideration.” Therein lies the dilemma of Fiona and the reader – when religion and science collide what is in any of our best interest? Watching our protagonists as their personal lives begin to get involved is what drives the plot of yet another thought-provoking novel of love and morality from McEwan.

About the Author

IAN McEWAN is the bestselling author of fifteen books, including the novels Sweet ToothSolar, winner of the Bollinger Everyman Wodehouse Prize; On Chesil BeachSaturday;Atonement, winner of the National Book Critics Circle Award and the W. H. Smith Literary Award; The Comfort of Strangers and Black Dogs, both short-listed for the Booker Prize; Amsterdam, winner of the Booker Prize; and The Child in Time, winner of the Whitbread Award; as well as the story collections First Love, Last Rites, winner of the Somerset Maugham Award, and In Between the Sheets.

Beyond the Book

NPR Review by Meg Wolitzer

Washington Post

New York Times Book Review