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Enduring Love (BBC Audiobooks)

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Joe Rose has planned a postcard-perfect afternoon in the English countryside to celebrate his lover's return after six weeks in the States. To complete the picture, there's even a "helium balloon drifting dreamily across the wooded valley." But as Joe and Clarissa watch the balloon touch down, their idyll comes to an abrupt end. The pilot catches his leg in the anchor rope Joe Rose has planned a postcard-perfect afternoon in the English countryside to celebrate his lover's return after six weeks in the States. To complete the picture, there's even a "helium balloon drifting dreamily across the wooded valley." But as Joe and Clarissa watch the balloon touch down, their idyll comes to an abrupt end. The pilot catches his leg in the anchor rope, while the only passenger, a boy, is too scared to jump down. As the wind whips into action, Joe and four other men rush to secure the basket. Mother Nature, however, isn't feeling very maternal. "A mighty fist socked the balloon in two rapid blows, one-two, the second more vicious than the first," and at once the rescuers are airborne. Joe manages to drop to the ground, as do most of his companions, but one man is lifted sky-high, only to fall to his death. In itself, the accident would change the survivors' lives, filling them with an uneasy combination of shame, happiness, and endless self-reproach. (In one of the novel's many ironies, the balloon eventually lands safely, the boy unscathed.) But fate has far more unpleasant things in store for Joe. Meeting the eye of fellow rescuer Jed Parry, for example, turns out to be a very bad move. For Jed is instantly obsessed, making the first of many calls to Joe and Clarissa's London flat that very night. Soon he's openly shadowing Joe and writing him endless letters. (One insane epistle begins, "I feel happiness running through me like an electrical current. I close my eyes and see you as you were last night in the rain, across the road from me, with the unspoken love between us as strong as steel cable.") Worst of all, Jed's version of love comes to seem a distortion of Joe's feelings for Clarissa. Apart from the incessant stalking, it is the conditionals--the contingencies--that most frustrate Joe, a scientific journalist. If only he and Clarissa had gone straight home from the airport... If only the wind hadn't picked up... If only he had saved Jed's 29 messages in a single day... Ian McEwan has long been a poet of the arbitrary nightmare, his characters ineluctably swept up in others' fantasies, skidding into deepening violence, and--worst of all--becoming strangers to those who love them. Even his prose itself is a masterful and methodical exercise in defamiliarization. But Enduring Love and its underrated predecessor, Black Dogs, are also meditations on knowledge and perception as well as brilliant manipulations of our own expectations. By the novel's end, you will be surprisingly unafraid of hot-air balloons, but you won't be too keen on looking a stranger in the eye.


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Joe Rose has planned a postcard-perfect afternoon in the English countryside to celebrate his lover's return after six weeks in the States. To complete the picture, there's even a "helium balloon drifting dreamily across the wooded valley." But as Joe and Clarissa watch the balloon touch down, their idyll comes to an abrupt end. The pilot catches his leg in the anchor rope Joe Rose has planned a postcard-perfect afternoon in the English countryside to celebrate his lover's return after six weeks in the States. To complete the picture, there's even a "helium balloon drifting dreamily across the wooded valley." But as Joe and Clarissa watch the balloon touch down, their idyll comes to an abrupt end. The pilot catches his leg in the anchor rope, while the only passenger, a boy, is too scared to jump down. As the wind whips into action, Joe and four other men rush to secure the basket. Mother Nature, however, isn't feeling very maternal. "A mighty fist socked the balloon in two rapid blows, one-two, the second more vicious than the first," and at once the rescuers are airborne. Joe manages to drop to the ground, as do most of his companions, but one man is lifted sky-high, only to fall to his death. In itself, the accident would change the survivors' lives, filling them with an uneasy combination of shame, happiness, and endless self-reproach. (In one of the novel's many ironies, the balloon eventually lands safely, the boy unscathed.) But fate has far more unpleasant things in store for Joe. Meeting the eye of fellow rescuer Jed Parry, for example, turns out to be a very bad move. For Jed is instantly obsessed, making the first of many calls to Joe and Clarissa's London flat that very night. Soon he's openly shadowing Joe and writing him endless letters. (One insane epistle begins, "I feel happiness running through me like an electrical current. I close my eyes and see you as you were last night in the rain, across the road from me, with the unspoken love between us as strong as steel cable.") Worst of all, Jed's version of love comes to seem a distortion of Joe's feelings for Clarissa. Apart from the incessant stalking, it is the conditionals--the contingencies--that most frustrate Joe, a scientific journalist. If only he and Clarissa had gone straight home from the airport... If only the wind hadn't picked up... If only he had saved Jed's 29 messages in a single day... Ian McEwan has long been a poet of the arbitrary nightmare, his characters ineluctably swept up in others' fantasies, skidding into deepening violence, and--worst of all--becoming strangers to those who love them. Even his prose itself is a masterful and methodical exercise in defamiliarization. But Enduring Love and its underrated predecessor, Black Dogs, are also meditations on knowledge and perception as well as brilliant manipulations of our own expectations. By the novel's end, you will be surprisingly unafraid of hot-air balloons, but you won't be too keen on looking a stranger in the eye.

30 review for Enduring Love (BBC Audiobooks)

  1. 4 out of 5

    Jim Fonseca

    This is a mid-career novel by McEwan, 1997. It’s about erotomania, the syndrome characterized by the delusional idea, usually in a young woman, that a man whom she considers to be of higher social and/or professional standing, who may be a complete stranger, is in love with her. He sends her signs and messages that only she can interpret, keeping the delusion alive. It can occur in males too, as it does in this story, especially in men who have social disabilities; are disconnected loners with n This is a mid-career novel by McEwan, 1997. It’s about erotomania, the syndrome characterized by the delusional idea, usually in a young woman, that a man whom she considers to be of higher social and/or professional standing, who may be a complete stranger, is in love with her. He sends her signs and messages that only she can interpret, keeping the delusion alive. It can occur in males too, as it does in this story, especially in men who have social disabilities; are disconnected loners with no friends, and may already have schizophrenia or other disorders. McEwan doesn’t use the word erotomania though, he calls it by its original name, De Clerambault’s syndrome. The sudden and obsessive love is directed at our main character, a married male journalist who writes science articles for magazines. The onset of love is provoked by a tragedy – a ballooning accident in which a father is killed, dropping from clinging to the balloon, while his son is saved inside the balloon. A group of men in a park try to grab the balloon in a moment of “democratic chaos” of attempted rescue without a leader, with each doing different things and yelling different commands – “hold on, let go.” I’m not giving away any plot – we know all this from the blurbs and by the end of the first chapter. Our journalist’s lover turns into a violent stalker. He’s also a religious nut whose goal is to “To bring you to God, through love.” The main story becomes how the journalist reacts to his stalker and how he shares his fear with his wife. It doesn’t go well and impacts what had been a good marriage. “What was so exhausting about him was the variety of his emotional states and the speed of their transitions. Reasonableness, tears, desperation, vague threat – and now honest supplication.” Another theme is: how do you talk about a life-changing event like that and with whom? He constantly relives the event and experiences guilt or some “unnamed sensation” of “did I do the wrong thing?” The plots thickens when he visits the dead man’s wife who puts a whole new spin on the incident even though she wasn’t there. This is McEwan, so we get tidbits about wine and vignettes about memory as surely as we get Johnny Walker and cats and with Murakami. Because the main character is a science writer, we get snippets of scientific ideas – Darwin, DNA, the Hubble telescope, how brain scans show tricks of memory. Some lines I liked: “The pavements were empty, the streets were full. Car were our citizens now.” About an academic’s house in north Oxford: “No colors but brown and cream. No design or style, no comfort, and in winter, very little warmth. Even the light was brownish, at one with the smells of damp, coal dust, and soap.” “I felt that empty, numbing neutrality that comes when one person in the room appears to monopolize all the available emotion.” “At the time I had trouble deciding whether he was slightly clever or very stupid.” A good read and typical McEwan. It was made into a movie in Britain in 2004.

  2. 5 out of 5

    karen

    In ____ (place/time), _______________ (name of character) does __________ (action) so that __________ (goal), but _________ (conflict!). This book is _______ (adjective), ______ (adjective), and made this reader _____ (verb). come to my blog! In ____ (place/time), _______________ (name of character) does __________ (action) so that __________ (goal), but _________ (conflict!). This book is _______ (adjective), ______ (adjective), and made this reader _____ (verb). come to my blog!

  3. 4 out of 5

    Lisa

    What happens when people confuse their own feelings of possession with love for another person, and expect the other person to buy into their delusion - a catastrophe in slow motion! The scary part of this novel, one of Ian McEwan's better works, is not the mentally ill stalker and his eruptions of violence. That bit is a psychological thriller of quite conventional dimensions. The scary part is how stress from an external source can reveal the incompatibility of two passionate lovers, believin What happens when people confuse their own feelings of possession with love for another person, and expect the other person to buy into their delusion - a catastrophe in slow motion! The scary part of this novel, one of Ian McEwan's better works, is not the mentally ill stalker and his eruptions of violence. That bit is a psychological thriller of quite conventional dimensions. The scary part is how stress from an external source can reveal the incompatibility of two passionate lovers, believing they are a team until they are thrown into a game where they find themselves alone, while their former teammate creates a third independent team on the field. There is no "winning" such a game, as the protagonists realise in the end, having spent their love and their energies on dealing in very different, yet equally lonely ways with the intrusion of a sexual and emotional predator. If you substitute the rare case of a stalker in your life for any kind of catastrophe putting your life on hold, what the stress does to your close relationhips is scarily plausible. "The narrative compression of storytelling, especially in the movies, beguiles us with happy endings into forgetting that sustained stress is corrosive of feeling. It's the great deadener." Those are the words of Joe, who saw the "happy ending" morph into an "unhappy continuation" without any power to change the course of the narrative. His partner, Clarissa, made an equally disturbing discovery: "A stranger walked into our lives, and the first thing that happened was that you became a stranger to me." Joe mirrored in Parry was not the man Clarissa loved and trusted. Joe mirrored in Parry was almost as scary and as isolated and obsessed as his opponent. "Overcoming the monster" - that old plot, slaying the Jabberwocky, o frabjous joy - in reality, we keep our own inner monster, and who has seen it is left broken, unhappily ever after.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Manny

    Even though I liked much of Choupette's review this morning, I disagreed with her conclusions... so, although I'm clearly in the minority here, let me present my take. Choupette starts off by observingreally what the book is about is the conflict between a way of thinking based on logical scientific reasoning and one based on emotions. Literature, versus science: "Do the scientific illiterates who run the National Library really believe that literature is mankind's greatest achievement?" (or som Even though I liked much of Choupette's review this morning, I disagreed with her conclusions... so, although I'm clearly in the minority here, let me present my take. Choupette starts off by observingreally what the book is about is the conflict between a way of thinking based on logical scientific reasoning and one based on emotions. Literature, versus science: "Do the scientific illiterates who run the National Library really believe that literature is mankind's greatest achievement?" (or something to that effect), the protagonist is heard to say on one occasion. A provocative statement, Mr. McEwan.It is indeed provocative, and I also think it's at the heart of what the book is about. To me, however, the passage is intended to be deeply ironic. The hero, Joe, is a science journalist, and embodies a world-view arranged around a rather facile interpretation of science. Note that he isn't a real scientist; at one point he tries to get back into the world of scientific research, and is politely but firmly told that he's missed the boat. Through no fault of his own, Joe is placed in a bizarre situation where, for reasons he doesn't understand, he discovers he's being stalked by a deranged individual. The stalker is cunning, and Joe is the only person who has clear evidence that anything is happening. In particular, his girlfriend, Clarissa, has never seen the stalker and wonders if he actually exists. This places great strain on her relationship with the hero. Clarissa is presented as being intellectually Joes's opposite; her passion is literature, in particular the poetry of Keats. I thought the development was logical and compelling. Joe does some clever detective work. He figures out who the stalker is and why he's doing it. He realises that the man is genuinely dangerous, and intervenes just in time to save Clarissa's life. But he completely misses the emotional realities of the situation. He's so focussed on solving the technical problem that he doesn't see he's destroying his relationship with the person he loves. Indeed, he blames her for not understanding him or his point of view, when it's blatantly obvious that he's misunderstanding her at least as badly. Most of the story is presented in a one-sided way, though Joe's eyes, and it's easy to be tricked into believing that the narrator's and the author's viewpoints coincide. I think that's too simple an interpretation. As the story progressed, I found myself paying more and more attention to Clarissa, and wishing that Joe would do the same; I'm pretty sure the author was nudging me in that direction. It's a subtle and humane book. Well done, Mr. McEwan.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Maciek

    Enduring Love is either a brilliant camp comedy or one of the worst attempts at serious fiction ever. Joe and his wife Clarissa are having a picnic when they spot a falling baloon. A man tries desperately to pin the balloon to the ground to save his son who's inside, traumatized.; Joe and a group of men who happened to be at the place run to help. The experiment goes bad; the man rolls to the ground while Joe and other men let go of the balloon. The balloon goes up into the air with one of the st Enduring Love is either a brilliant camp comedy or one of the worst attempts at serious fiction ever. Joe and his wife Clarissa are having a picnic when they spot a falling baloon. A man tries desperately to pin the balloon to the ground to save his son who's inside, traumatized.; Joe and a group of men who happened to be at the place run to help. The experiment goes bad; the man rolls to the ground while Joe and other men let go of the balloon. The balloon goes up into the air with one of the strangers still holding it; nevertheless, he lets go too (at considerable height) and falls to the ground, dying instantly. One of the stranger, Jed, starts looking at Joe. Joe doesn't know what's going on but we do: Jed has developed an obsession with Joe. He fell in love with him and wants to be happy with him under the watchful eye of God. He's desperate. The characters are so unsympathetic that the reader finds himself rooting for Jed to kill them all. Clarissa is the one of the worst and most boring women ever written. She likes kids (but she can't have one of her own) she likes books and is big on Keats (she's an university professor) and leaves traces of her perfume in a room. Yet when her stressed out husband confesses that he hid a phonecall from obsessed stranger for two whole days (that's like,um,48 hours) she goes full mad and offended. I mean it's not like an obsessed, religious-mad gay called this straight dude who had just see a man die by crashing into the earth! What? Ashamed? Confused? What NO! No way! She acts like she was 3 years old who just learned to spell "hate" and what it means. To think that she lived with Joe for seven years is unthinkable. She acts like they were both fourteen year old and she had just let him have his first sideboob. They are described to be a very close couple, loving and connected. Within 24 hours Clarissa accuses her husband of being delusional and dishonest. She doesn't want to hear Joe's side of the story. And you know what? After it turns out that Jed is a real threat, Clarissa spuns out a 180 turn and accuses Joe of not talking to her, not wanting her help? I mean didn't she just rejected his fears as irrational and even delirious? She found out that Joe (oh gawd) was looking through her desk because he suspected that she was seeing someone else, and tells him that it was the last straw and she's leaving. Then she and Joe make love (?!?!?). When Joe takes matters into his hands she leaves. Die bitch! KILL IT WITH FIRE! All this is ornamented with the figure of maniacal Jed, who sends Joe letters that are supposed to be the evidence of his love, but only serve as unintentional hilarity. I was expecting a giant half-squirrel, half-cock to jump into the story anytime. At the end there's a 5 page appendix describing the de Clerambault's syndrome from which Jed suffers. There's also a letter he sends from an Asylum that shows that he's still sick. Joe and Clarissa reconcile and I do hope he drives a stake banded with barbed wire straight through her anus. It might make her ealize what a pain in the butt she was.Is. There's no point to this story altogether. None. Zero. Nada. Pretentious, pseudo intelectual, filled with superfluous science that's supposed to look smart but is only tedious. Damn you, Mcewan. With On Chesil Beach you slapped me across the face; with Enduring Love you delivered a round-house kick straight to the nuts. Your luck they don't hit guys in glasses. But I warn you, McEwan. I warn you.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Kelly

    Ian McEwan's novels tend to revolve around a single event, a single moment, or day. This day will change the character's life and everyone around them. It shows the past and the future spiraling around this one narrative point in the story. He's at his best in this format, and that definitely shows in Enduring Love. It is essentially a case study of a man suffering from extreme, disturbing delusions and a fierce obsession, and the man who struggles to deal with being the object of that obsession Ian McEwan's novels tend to revolve around a single event, a single moment, or day. This day will change the character's life and everyone around them. It shows the past and the future spiraling around this one narrative point in the story. He's at his best in this format, and that definitely shows in Enduring Love. It is essentially a case study of a man suffering from extreme, disturbing delusions and a fierce obsession, and the man who struggles to deal with being the object of that obsession. But it never felt clinical to me. It did start a bit slow, a bit ponderously, I will admit that. But his language got me anyway, with a great deal of beautiful imagery and explorations on various themes. After that, McEwan rapidly builds the tension and suspense, despite the fact that the whole thing remains wrapped up in psychological analysis, rational reasoning and scientific analogy, the study of it is so rapid and consuming that it feels like constant action. The "villain".. if we can really call him that manages to be horrifying and eerie and completely disturbing and yet, there is still a kind of terrible beauty to him that forces you to think about your own obsessions and your own loves. He represents the kind of all consuming romantic love that many people believe they want, that movies and literature celebrate, except gone off the rails. It raises such interesting, disturbing questions about the nature of love and reality, how we make our own worlds in life and just how far we can go with that before it is too far, what we are really motivated by in love, what being "in love" really means, does someone else need to feel what you feel to make it okay?... on and on. I think McEwan is certainly trying to make us all see ourselves, at least a little bit, in the case study of the "villain," and I think he's quite successful at it.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Elyse Walters

    Read it years ago!!! A tragic accident..... love, guilt, moral dilemma.............. Thought-provoking prose........ A terrific writer. One of my favorites!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  8. 5 out of 5

    Wen

    During this stressful work week I was looking for a quick escape from one of my favorite authors, with much anticipation, but ended with a disappointment. Enduring Love was the weakest among the 9 McEwan’s books I’ve read so far. Scientific writer Joe rose met Jed parry during a heroic group act to rescue a 10-year-old boy during an air balloon accident, and unfortunately the uncoordinated act led to the death of one of the rescuers. Jed became obsessed with his unrequited love for already guilt- During this stressful work week I was looking for a quick escape from one of my favorite authors, with much anticipation, but ended with a disappointment. Enduring Love was the weakest among the 9 McEwan’s books I’ve read so far. Scientific writer Joe rose met Jed parry during a heroic group act to rescue a 10-year-old boy during an air balloon accident, and unfortunately the uncoordinated act led to the death of one of the rescuers. Jed became obsessed with his unrequited love for already guilt-stricken Joe, and started stalking and threatening him. This put a strain on Joe’s previously harmonious relationship with his partner Clarissa, and the stress continued to build when Joe took the matters all into his own hands. Did Joe choose to do so? The answer was both yes and no... This psychological thriller kicked off with a bang, but was half-baked after, and fell flat at the ending. there were so many possibilities to deliver a more powerful and less predictable resolution,, given the rich material McEwan provided throughout the book. The moral of the story was the fragility of love between couples having had long shared affection and loyalty. Joe and Clarissa’s 7-year relationship had been a time bomb anyway. They were great match for intellectually-stimulating discussions. But Joe leaned on only rigorous scientific research for making “rational” decisions, while Clarissa counted on Joe’s “rational: nature to sail through any crisis. The easily paranoid Joe was far from being a rock for Clarissa. Clarissa’s stunning beauty and Joe’s self-unworthiness had seemingly given Clarissa a free ticket to be unconditionally pampered. Hence it was no surprise that both failed to hold down the balloon so to speak. With the lack of children always lurking in the shadow, the happy ending suggested by Appendix 1 would have been very unrealistic. That said, the book's focus on Joe may have left me with superficial and unfair understanding of Clarissa. John and Jean Logan’s tale didn’t add much depth to the moral of the story, but they did help spice up the thrill and prolong reader’s anticipation. Some details appeared unnecessary, like Joe paging through his address book and the purchase of the gun. Maybe I was missing something. Personally I loved McEwan’s novels because of: 1) his quiet and fluent prose; 2) his exquisite verbalization of music. In this book, I felt the verboseness masked his typical prose, yet some brilliant sentences were hard to miss. Music was only mentioned once in passing. I’m still a McEwan fan. This book recalibrated my expectation… not a bad development because I believe I have already read most of his best novels.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Fabian

    Trying to describe the deeply intimate & personal with psychopathology … this is precisely what made ‘Saturday’ the worst book ever contrived. (Emphasis on CONTRIVED.) Now, this dish is not devoid of that ingredient--it is again about a member of the upper class (DON’T EVER FORGET IT dear reader!) crashing head-on with a creep-o misfit, a defective misanthrope who has this eerie pathological condition stalking the incredibly intelligent and quick-witted protagonist for pages… a neo noir, a-la Sa Trying to describe the deeply intimate & personal with psychopathology … this is precisely what made ‘Saturday’ the worst book ever contrived. (Emphasis on CONTRIVED.) Now, this dish is not devoid of that ingredient--it is again about a member of the upper class (DON’T EVER FORGET IT dear reader!) crashing head-on with a creep-o misfit, a defective misanthrope who has this eerie pathological condition stalking the incredibly intelligent and quick-witted protagonist for pages… a neo noir, a-la Saramago (but not turtle-paced like his are usually, thank God). The premise is incredible, too many coincidences create a rift in an otherwise stagnant life: two events, including the aforementioned illness (of the ‘antagonist') and the event which propels the reader to continue reading the novel in 1 sitting (!), the hot air balloon accident, are one too many things to occur to a science journalist who functions intellectually in a plane above you & me (… he's British after all). That all these occurrences happen at once is almost a literary impossibility. But. Damn it if this isn’t O-so-readable! You must know what happens next, and at all costs, and ignoring your outside life will become a necessity. It is bizarre, ugly in the clinical definition of the word. Sterile, bleak, sad. I love the fact that the central problem in the book is the surplus of love. Are all emotions really just teensy chemical reactions within a susceptible organism? That this has been McEwan’s recurring thesis for books previous to this and also after does not shock: he is adulated for that exact type of coldness. Saturday, On Chesil Beach… I'm not a huge fan of this brand of bleakness. Atonement barely has that conceited, I-know-everything-even-the-biological-processes-which-govern-the-universe-entire narrative voice… which is why it's his Sole Masterpiece. And if you didn’t think the writer sufficiently pretentious, look at the dual appendixes at the end of the book, look at the over usage of words like love and innocence to describe the psychological landscape. At least he refrained from using footnotes! (Alas, American Paul Auster already has.)

  10. 5 out of 5

    Sara

    Can this author really be the same man who wrote Atonement? I have now read enough of his books to know there is a range from horrid to sublime and a bit of everything in between, and this one is the in between. I hated the first half and almost tossed it in. I didn’t for the obvious reason, I wanted to know which of the two scenarios was right, who was the crazy man here? In the end, I realized, it didn’t really matter if Joe was right or wrong, he was still unbalanced, and he was still a very Can this author really be the same man who wrote Atonement? I have now read enough of his books to know there is a range from horrid to sublime and a bit of everything in between, and this one is the in between. I hated the first half and almost tossed it in. I didn’t for the obvious reason, I wanted to know which of the two scenarios was right, who was the crazy man here? In the end, I realized, it didn’t really matter if Joe was right or wrong, he was still unbalanced, and he was still a very unreliable narrator. What was most frustrating was that for all the elevated subject matter and intellectual writing, there was nothing greater than “story” here for me. There is something at the heart of this book that repelled me. Perhaps it was the treatment of God and faith. I believe; and I find it sad that anyone’s belief would be ridiculed or mocked, and, notwithstanding the obvious element of insanity attributed to Jed Parry, I found McEwan’s treatment of the topic hostile and mocking in nature. I have two other McEwan books sitting on my library bookshelves. I think they will go with me on my next trip to the used book store and I can lighten my TBR by two books. I don’t see me ever cracking a McEwan bookcover again. I am so glad I started with Atonement, because had I read these others first, I would never have gotten there.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Shovelmonkey1

    Before I read (and amused myself by being overly critical about) Saturday by Ian McEwan, I'd also read The Cement Garden, Atonement, The Comfort of Strangers, The Child in Time and On Chesil Beach. Here are some Ian McEwan statistics based on my own reading habits: He's written 19 books so far and I've read seven of them which is representative of 36.84% of his total output (I've not included plays or short stories, just novels). Of these seven books, I have enjoyed four -The Cement Garden, The C Before I read (and amused myself by being overly critical about) Saturday by Ian McEwan, I'd also read The Cement Garden, Atonement, The Comfort of Strangers, The Child in Time and On Chesil Beach. Here are some Ian McEwan statistics based on my own reading habits: He's written 19 books so far and I've read seven of them which is representative of 36.84% of his total output (I've not included plays or short stories, just novels). Of these seven books, I have enjoyed four -The Cement Garden, The Comfort of Strangers, On Chesil Beach and this one (oh yes and boo to me for not liking Atonement in either book or film mode) which means that I've got a McEwan enjoyment rating of 57.14% Now given that I am difficult to please, belligerent and bellicose, that is not a bad rating Mr McEwan. Enduring Love gets a thumbs up (shield your eyes now *spoilers* on the horizon) because the book introduces the two principal characters, Jed and Joe through what has to be the most random event ever used as a literary tool (please chime in on the comments section below if you can think of more random ones). Man falls to death from runaway hot air balloon.... yes, really. How do you come up with that one? Surely as statistically unlikely as man gored to death by very pointy carrot or man squashed by falling chunk of space junk? I did the statistics for the books but I'm not capable of working out the statistical probability of any of the above statements so I won't. So Joe and Jed meet. Is it love at first sight? Yes but only for one party and the other party is at first blissfully unaware. As admiration and love spiral, ever decreasing circles style, into a tight little ball of obsession we get to follow the two characters who both perceive events in very different ways. None of the characters are particularly loveable or sympathetic to each other, or each others point of view. Mostly you'll find yourself cheering for the underdog. For the discerning film buff, this was also turned into a movie featuring Daniel Craig and Rhys Ifans. I can't really recommend the film aside from the bit where Daniel Craig gets out of a swimming pool in small pants.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Rebecca

    Interesting to consider this as a precursor to Saturday: both have a scientist as the protagonist and get progressively darker through a slightly contrived stalker plot. Enduring Love opens, famously, with a ballooning accident that leaves its witnesses questioning whether they couldn’t have done more to prevent it. Freelance science journalist Joe Rose – on a picnic with his partner, Keats scholar Clarissa, at the time – was one of those who rushed to help, as was Jed Parry, a young Christian z Interesting to consider this as a precursor to Saturday: both have a scientist as the protagonist and get progressively darker through a slightly contrived stalker plot. Enduring Love opens, famously, with a ballooning accident that leaves its witnesses questioning whether they couldn’t have done more to prevent it. Freelance science journalist Joe Rose – on a picnic with his partner, Keats scholar Clarissa, at the time – was one of those who rushed to help, as was Jed Parry, a young Christian zealot who fixates on Joe. He seems to think that by loving Joe, a committed atheist, he can bring him to God. In turn, Joe’s obsession with Jed’s harassment campaign drives Clarissa away. It’s a deliciously creepy read that contrasts rationality with religion and inquires into what types of love are built to last. Reviewed with five other “love” titles for a Valentine’s-themed post on my blog, Bookish Beck.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Liz

    “I just wanted you to know, I understand what you’re feeling. I feel it too. I love you.” If those words sound sweet or romantic to you, read this book and they will take on a whole new meaning. This is the uniquely articulated story of what unfolds after a tragic hot-air balloon accident, during which a man is killed. It starts with one moment, one look. No turning back. I found this to be an interesting, layered, and compelling read. Bordering on thrilling, but for the more intricate langua “I just wanted you to know, I understand what you’re feeling. I feel it too. I love you.” If those words sound sweet or romantic to you, read this book and they will take on a whole new meaning. This is the uniquely articulated story of what unfolds after a tragic hot-air balloon accident, during which a man is killed. It starts with one moment, one look. No turning back. I found this to be an interesting, layered, and compelling read. Bordering on thrilling, but for the more intricate language and thought processes involved throughout… not easy or fast enough to be a thriller. The overall tone is actually kind of ethereal, colored with themes of isolation, loneliness, and paranoia, it’s just the kind of thing to make you wonder who you can trust, what you really know. Ian McEwan doesn’t write for a simple, quick read. During the telling of the story, there are brief but regular forays into scientific and philosophical subjects which are of interest to the main character. Some of these explorations are in sync with the storyline and some take you elsewhere, but it seemed to work for me and it helped me get to know Joe’s character a little better. I am finding a solid appreciation for the indirect way in which this author conveys his story. The subject of Enduring Love is something that I’d never heard of before but nonetheless was a fascinating basis for the events that occurred after the accident. I don’t want to specifically name it, because I want other readers to wonder and obsess just like I did… about why? And what the actual f**k??

  14. 5 out of 5

    Patricia Williams

    I read a lot of books by this author. I like his writing. Some of them are very good and some IMO are not so good. This one I really enjoyed. Not exactly for the subject of the story but for the way it was told. I could not stop reading this book. I finished it very quickly. The story was told by the main character and I could not stop reading it. I really felt that "Atonement" was this author most outstanding book but I will continue to read him because when I find another book this good it's a I read a lot of books by this author. I like his writing. Some of them are very good and some IMO are not so good. This one I really enjoyed. Not exactly for the subject of the story but for the way it was told. I could not stop reading this book. I finished it very quickly. The story was told by the main character and I could not stop reading it. I really felt that "Atonement" was this author most outstanding book but I will continue to read him because when I find another book this good it's always a pleasant surprise.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Betsy Robinson

    Joe Rose, a science writer, has a traumatic experience, and then is stalked. I could never tell where this book was going, and I was surprised and thrilled by McEwan’s allegiance to truth that is nuanced, complex, and founded in the way we really feel and act, rather than manipulated via neat literary tricks that are so popular in commercial fiction and, to me, feel packaged. Enduring Love is my ninth Ian McEwan book and I now have a sense that I can group his work by certain characteristics. Thi Joe Rose, a science writer, has a traumatic experience, and then is stalked. I could never tell where this book was going, and I was surprised and thrilled by McEwan’s allegiance to truth that is nuanced, complex, and founded in the way we really feel and act, rather than manipulated via neat literary tricks that are so popular in commercial fiction and, to me, feel packaged. Enduring Love is my ninth Ian McEwan book and I now have a sense that I can group his work by certain characteristics. This book belongs in the “stories of intrigue” group that includes Amsterdam and Sweet Tooth. In some ways, I suppose these books are more commercial than the ones that ride on even more nuanced undercurrents of denied, sublimated, and repressed human feeling (although, to be honest, all of his books contain these), but I actually prefer the subtler books (Saturday, The Children Act, On Chesil Beach). Atonement straddles both categories, and Nutshell (hilarious) and The Cement Garden (first novel) occupy their own categories. But honestly, why quibble and categorize? I will read anything this man writes. Why? I think of the famous obvious answer, “It’s the economy, stupid.” With McEwan, “It’s the writing.” I can pick any page and find wonderful writing. I always draft my reviews as I’m reading, and I happen to be on page 95 for this thought. Here’s a sentence: There was another thing too, like a skin, a soft shell around the meat of my anger, limiting it and so making it appear all the more theatrical. And later, page 213, there’s this:What I had thought was an expression was actually his face at rest. I had been misled by the curl of his upper lip, which some genetic hiatus had boiled into a snarl. This is writing I feel in my teeth—as if they are sinking into the meat he references—and my mouth waters.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Cindy

    Ugh, I hate giving such a low rating to a book by McEwan because he writes such beautiful prose, but the plot was such a letdown I also cannot justify giving it a higher one. McEwan's writing is beautiful, there is no doubt about that. I’d read Atonement, and it was as good as the movie made the story out to be. This book also explores some interesting ideas about love, trust, faith and reason. However, as interesting as the plot's premise is...dear God, what a disappointment at the end. I cannot Ugh, I hate giving such a low rating to a book by McEwan because he writes such beautiful prose, but the plot was such a letdown I also cannot justify giving it a higher one. McEwan's writing is beautiful, there is no doubt about that. I’d read Atonement, and it was as good as the movie made the story out to be. This book also explores some interesting ideas about love, trust, faith and reason. However, as interesting as the plot's premise is...dear God, what a disappointment at the end. I cannot believe the novel took that long for the plot to come to its conclusion - the element of suspense is at first intriguing, but later simply becomes frustrating. One is also built up with the idea that the plot has an unexpected conclusion, of “There must be something else going on here, right?” A story with writing of this much caliber must have a good ending, right? Unfortunately, totally wrong. Again, what an utter disappointment. The characters also lack a certain depth, and their motivations are not entirely believable. I can see how some people may enjoy the elements of contrasting the main character’s belief in science with the antagonist’s religious leanings, and there are certainly some insightful passages about that topic, but I find his blatantness in writing about religion this way very annoying. There is no subtlety, and subtlety is key to manipulating the emotions of the reader. McEwan would have do better to write a non-fiction science book than to put his thoughts this way into a novel. As a fiction reader who was led on to think this was a thriller, I could not have been more wrong, and more angry.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Anja

    The story and opening are haunting and gripping! Sadly there were a few instances, where the author started to ramble on about themes, that I absolutely did not care about, or had no effect on the story or character itself...It took me out of the story. Otherwise a very good novel.

  18. 4 out of 5

    C.

    I've gone off Ian McEwan lately, for reasons I'm not particularly proud of. In short, I've started hanging with a 'better' (or, for political correctness, 'different') literary crowd, and now McEwan seems to me to be the province of the armchair literati, the people who like to read the Booker Prize winners, the people who are content to read pretty, sophisticated prose that looks nice but means nothing. Yes, I did that too, for a while, but the difference was that I was sixteen at the time, and I've gone off Ian McEwan lately, for reasons I'm not particularly proud of. In short, I've started hanging with a 'better' (or, for political correctness, 'different') literary crowd, and now McEwan seems to me to be the province of the armchair literati, the people who like to read the Booker Prize winners, the people who are content to read pretty, sophisticated prose that looks nice but means nothing. Yes, I did that too, for a while, but the difference was that I was sixteen at the time, and now I'm reading Cervantes and McEwan can't exactly compete. Nonetheless, it's dreadfully unfair of me to say this, really. Who am I to judge? Exactly no one. So I read this book carefully, trying to see if my latest beliefs about McEwan were correct or not. And I was a bit sceptical: I noticed a lot of things from Saturday reappearing, the things I've come to think of as McEwan tropes: science, literature; expensive, educated, privileged people brushing briefly against the sordid working classes and feeling themselves soiled as a result. What McEwan likes to do, I think, is choose an interesting situation, put his characters in it and then see what happens, preferably using as many of the features I listed above. But this time is impressively convoluted, even for him: a tragic balloon accident opens the book, and you think that's all, but then, from this tragic accident emerges between two of the characters (or, really, from one character to another) a kind of obsessive love. This love proceeds to destroy the marriage of its victim, but really what the book is about is the conflict between a way of thinking based on logical scientific reasoning and one based on emotions. Literature, versus science: "Do the scientific illiterates who run the National Library really believe that literature is mankind's greatest achievement?" (or something to that effect), the protagonist is heard to say on one occasion. A provocative statement, Mr. McEwan. But here I come to my evidence. You see, I like to think I'm more than just an average nobody typing nonsense for a book-themed social networking site; I, I tell myself, am a scientist, and more importantly, I am an intelligent human being. Whatever. This means that if I make a claim, I try to back it up it with evidence, with some sort of example that supports what I'm saying. You see, McEwan sets up this conflict between science and literature (quite nicely, in my opinion), but then essentially abandons it, leaving it to curl up in a little whimpering heap and die. In a quintessentially McEwan way, he suggests interesting things but offers no opinion on them, no discussion, no give-and-take of ideas. This, I believe, gives his books the outward appearance of being clever and interesting, erudite even, but, I claim, they are not. They are Jodi Picoult, but a notch or two higher - or is that too harsh? And really, that's ok. Cervantes it is not, but I enjoyed this book. McEwan does write about interesting things, and that is much better than nothing. I always enjoy his sophisticated prose (though I think Saturday is better in that respect), and this book in particular was a real page-turner, in a restrained and fairly non-trashy way, with elements of real horror.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Will Ansbacher

    Another brilliantly-written work that springs from a single defining event. McEwan does that a lot, this time it’s a ballooning tragedy, but the real purpose of it is to allow McEwan to explore his characters. Joe had been picnicking with his partner Clarissa when they see a man attempting to hold a balloon down to free a child trapped inside. Joe and five others run to help but through an unfortunate set of actions, one falls to his death. Thus two men meet: Jed is a lonely religious fundamenta Another brilliantly-written work that springs from a single defining event. McEwan does that a lot, this time it’s a ballooning tragedy, but the real purpose of it is to allow McEwan to explore his characters. Joe had been picnicking with his partner Clarissa when they see a man attempting to hold a balloon down to free a child trapped inside. Joe and five others run to help but through an unfortunate set of actions, one falls to his death. Thus two men meet: Jed is a lonely religious fundamentalist who falls obsessively in love with Joe, hounding and pestering him to return his love, yet maintains that Joe initiated the whole thing. Joe, a hyper-rational ex-physicist and respected science reporter, soon determines that Jed is suffering from de Clerambault’s Syndrome. (At first I thought that that McEwan-esquely-named disorder and its symptoms must surely have been invented by the man himself, but no, it is a real illness; though McEwan does cleverly present the entire story of Enduring Love as the basis for a psychiatric case history in an appendix. That in itself is brilliant: it’s written as a perfect facsimile of a dry academic paper, complete with real references – yes, I checked! – but the British Review of Psychiatry that it was supposedly published in is fake. It is so convincing that it apparently fooled both physicians and book critics - one complaining that Enduring Love was a too-literal interpretation of a real case. See this Guardian article for more.). Back to the story. But how much is Joe the cause and how much the victim of the unfolding drama? Because Joe is himself obsessed with proving that Jed is actually unbalanced, to the extent of destroying his relationship with Clarissa, who has never even seen Jed since the accident and points out that the daily letters Jed keeps sending him look suspiciously like Joe’s own handwriting. There is a lot more going on – there is an important parallel story involving the widow of the man who was killed in the accident, which provides Joe with a mystery to solve – and the overall pace and tension is great; I found it hard to put down, although strangely it was not a fast read. Actually some elements were a little far-fetched (I mean, really, if you were struggling to keep a balloon on the ground, would you notice how many doors were open on a car parked some distance away? But at least two of them supposedly did). And I thought the story did become a bit strained towards the end (view spoiler)[with Joe discovering that de Clerambault sufferers can become violent, just before that did actually happen, and immediately deciding he needed to get a gun for protection just as he discovered that Jed was holding Clarissa hostage (hide spoiler)] . But no matter; it’s not that I found the development unconvincing in any way, or that it wasn’t well-paced. Like many of McEwan’s works, there is a thread of unreality or rather dream-like menace through it which is thoroughly engrossing; so this may not be his best, but it’s damn good.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Charlotte Guzman

    Ok, this is my 4th book by Mr. McEwen and was very satisfied with this book. I was hooked from the beginning and was bent over the book a lot when reading just anticipating what was going to happen next. You wondered who was the crazy one in the story and at the end you found out. There was forgiveness and happiness in the end but you have a thought of will it stay that way. I have read Atonement, Amsterdam, and Black Dogs by this author. The author is very good at keeping you thinking about what Ok, this is my 4th book by Mr. McEwen and was very satisfied with this book. I was hooked from the beginning and was bent over the book a lot when reading just anticipating what was going to happen next. You wondered who was the crazy one in the story and at the end you found out. There was forgiveness and happiness in the end but you have a thought of will it stay that way. I have read Atonement, Amsterdam, and Black Dogs by this author. The author is very good at keeping you thinking about what comes next in the story line. I I really enjoyed this one!

  21. 5 out of 5

    Kate

    I don't know about this book. On one hand, when all is said and done the narrative feels simply like an intricately-written case study, though occasionally punctuated with inconsistently glorious descriptions, for an odd psychological disorder that even with all of Ian McEwan's brilliance is still only mildly interesting. On the other hand, it's McEwan's wonderful writing combined with a first-person perspective, which gives us the rare treat of a character reflecting introspectively using all of I don't know about this book. On one hand, when all is said and done the narrative feels simply like an intricately-written case study, though occasionally punctuated with inconsistently glorious descriptions, for an odd psychological disorder that even with all of Ian McEwan's brilliance is still only mildly interesting. On the other hand, it's McEwan's wonderful writing combined with a first-person perspective, which gives us the rare treat of a character reflecting introspectively using all of McEwan's power with words. Now and again I was reminded of Paul Auster - the hints at future calamities and complications prior to their being actually narrated, the ambiguity as to whether events are real or imagined, the questioning of the protagonist's sanity. Like Auster (but so much better), McEwan has a special talent for turning order into disorder. Strangely, in this book things return to some degree of order at the end; I'm used to there being no loose ends at the end of a McEwan novel, but usually it's because everyone's dead or something. I hate to imply that the ending was too happy just because it wasn't completely hopelessly tragic; it was more that it seemed plucked from thin air. Definitely a 2.5-star book.

  22. 5 out of 5

    Scarlet

    I’d forgotten how deftly McEwan writes. The prose here is so vivid, it adds layers of complexity and introspection to an otherwise so-so plot. The opening chapter itself is worthy of 5 stars - I felt like I was actually witnessing the accident in real time, that the desperation, helplessness, horror, and guilt outlined on those pages were mine alone. Fantastic.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Blair

    Enduring Love has a simple but fascinating premise, which I was at least halfway familiar with before beginning the book (I think there's been a film version, which I haven't actually seen, but remember reading about whenever it came out). Joe Rose, a scientific journalist, is about to enjoy a reunion picnic with his girlfriend Clarissa when he witnesses an accident involving a hot-air balloon; he and a small group of strangers rush to help, but the incident results in a man's death. During thes Enduring Love has a simple but fascinating premise, which I was at least halfway familiar with before beginning the book (I think there's been a film version, which I haven't actually seen, but remember reading about whenever it came out). Joe Rose, a scientific journalist, is about to enjoy a reunion picnic with his girlfriend Clarissa when he witnesses an accident involving a hot-air balloon; he and a small group of strangers rush to help, but the incident results in a man's death. During these events, one of the group, Jed Parry, catches Joe's eye and thereafter develops an obsession with him. As the story progresses, Parry's behaviour becomes increasingly disturbing and Joe finds his relationship with Clarissa disintegrating, leading to an inevitably dramatic climax. At first I thought this was a fairly straightforward tale (rational man is harrassed by religious fanatic, relationship suffers) but to my delight, it became much more than that. Joe is a complicated character - obsessed by the rationality of science, he is nevertheless completely inept in the way he handles both Parry's behaviour and the problems in his relationship with Clarissa. In the first few chapters, his ruminations on matters scientific irritated and bored me, but later I began to understand that they are essential in establishing the basics of his character, the rationality that leads him to deal with his stalker in entirely the wrong way, only making matters worse. Parry's obsession, meanwhile, begins to reflect Joe's single-minded determination that he can restore Clarissa's love for him to its former state, creating a fascinating parallel between the two men - is Parry's love only categorised as madness because it has never been returned; does love require reciprocation to be validated as a normal mental state? However, I couldn't help thinking it was all just too slight. Joe and Clarissa's relationship, Parry's obsessive behaviour, Joe's struggle to be taken seriously by Clarissa and the police - all would have benefited from further exploration, and the book could easily have been twice its actual length and still just as compelling. The opening of the book is incredibly effective - the reader is plunged straight into the action of the balloon incident - but because this is the first time Joe and Clarissa appear, and the problems between them start very soon afterwards, I found it difficult to get a handle on them as a couple deeply in love and happy (particularly as we only see Joe's viewpoint). I LOVED the element of uncertainty, the narrative's implication - as well as Clarissa's obvious suspicion - that Parry is actully a figment of Joe's imagination, some expression of post-traumatic stress, but again, this was resolved too quickly. Additionally, I didn't see much point in the sub-plot involving the balloon accident victim's family, which only made me want to jump back to the main narrative. To sum up: very good, full of interesting themes and meanings, but simply not long or detailed enough for me.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Paul E. Morph

    Enduring Love is Ian McEwan’s novel about two men, brought together initially by their involvement in a freak accident involving a hot air balloon. In the aftermath of this incident, our protagonist (Joe) finds himself in the awkward position (he’s an atheist) of being asked to pray with the man who ultimately ends up being the antagonist. He politely declines but the religious chap won’t take no for an answer and becomes deeply obsessed with Joe, proclaiming he loves him and that he knows Joe l Enduring Love is Ian McEwan’s novel about two men, brought together initially by their involvement in a freak accident involving a hot air balloon. In the aftermath of this incident, our protagonist (Joe) finds himself in the awkward position (he’s an atheist) of being asked to pray with the man who ultimately ends up being the antagonist. He politely declines but the religious chap won’t take no for an answer and becomes deeply obsessed with Joe, proclaiming he loves him and that he knows Joe loves him too. Essentially, this is the story of how things go from slightly awkward to life-threatening. This was a re-read for me, spurred by seeing a very cheap copy of the audiobook. I have to say, however, that I didn’t enjoy it as much as I did the first time. Perhaps it’s because I already knew the ultimate outcome and remembered most of the twists along the way and, therefore, didn’t have that thrill of watching a plot unfurl and become clearer along the way. Perhaps it’s just because I’ve changed as a person in the fifteen or so years since I first read this book. I may have lost some of my patience for the rambling, tangent-filled style in which the protagonist/narrator writes. I also wasn’t keen on the final part of the novel being comprised of two (fake) appendices, written about the characters from the point of view of a previously uninvolved third party. While the very end of these appendices gives you a hint of what happened to the characters after the main body of the book ends, the majority of their content is just a clinical rehashing of the story we’ve just read. Despite these issues, I did still enjoy the book. It’s a story that resonates with me, having been in similar (but not so intensely serious) situations myself. Have most of us not found ourselves stuck with the prolonged, unwanted attentions and company of somebody we actively dislike but are, perhaps, too polite to shake off? Hopefully, it’s fallen short of actual stalking in most cases. It’s very well written, too, with Joe being a classic example of the unreliable narrator. We’re aware from quite early on that the reality of the events Joe is narrating for us may actually be quite different from how he is portraying them. The relative reliability of different people’s viewpoints and observations is one of the central themes of the book and one that McEwan communicates extremely well. When I first read this novel, I think I would have given it five stars but, on re-reading I’m going to give it a three star rating. Mainly because I can’t give it the 3.5 star 7 out of 10 rating I’d actually like to give it.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Sarah

    What a funny book. That's funny as in weird funny. You'd think I would know to expect this as this was my 5th McEwan novel, but I have to say this one was odder than I expected it to be. The first chapter of this book was excellent, and probably one of the most memorable I have ever read (if you don't know what it's about the cover is a pretty helpful clue). After the first chapter there was a direction I expected the novel to take, but it instead focuses on one character involved in the "inciden What a funny book. That's funny as in weird funny. You'd think I would know to expect this as this was my 5th McEwan novel, but I have to say this one was odder than I expected it to be. The first chapter of this book was excellent, and probably one of the most memorable I have ever read (if you don't know what it's about the cover is a pretty helpful clue). After the first chapter there was a direction I expected the novel to take, but it instead focuses on one character involved in the "incident" becoming obsessed with another character who was also involved, someone who was a stranger to him before this catastrophic event. This is written in the typical McEwan style, and felt quite similar in some ways to the last of his novels that I read, The Innocent. Although totally different in style and tone, both stories follow a man who has to deal with an uncomfortable and unfamiliar situation which forces him to make some big (and often questionable) decisions. My rating of 3 stars is due to the fact that I found this to drag a little in the middle. We know that Parry is obsessed with Joe, there had been enough creepy stalker moments, but still they kept happening despite adding little to the story, and it was the same case with the disintegration of Joe's relationship with Clarissa. I suppose the reason that these parts annoyed me was because I just wanted to find out how the story ended, but I still feel that a few of these chapters were unnecessary. I honestly don't know who I would recommend this to, although I don't regret reading it. If I was asked which McEwan novel to start with, I think I would suggest The Children Act, Nutshell or The Innocent over this one.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Tania

    on fighting... Joe has another kind of problem. His emotions are slow to shift to anger in the first place, and even when they have, he has the wrong kind of intelligence, he forgets his lines and cannot score the points. Nor can he break the habit of responding to an accusation with a detailed, reasoned answer, instead of coming back with an accusation of his own. He is easily outmanoeuvred by a sudden irrelevance. Irritation blocks his understanding of his own case, and it is only later, when on fighting... Joe has another kind of problem. His emotions are slow to shift to anger in the first place, and even when they have, he has the wrong kind of intelligence, he forgets his lines and cannot score the points. Nor can he break the habit of responding to an accusation with a detailed, reasoned answer, instead of coming back with an accusation of his own. He is easily outmanoeuvred by a sudden irrelevance. Irritation blocks his understanding of his own case, and it is only later, when he is calm, than an articulate advocacy unrolls in his thoughts. Some of his description on emotions, like the one above, feels like he is describing me (much better than I ever could). I read Atonement in 2003 and was very disapointed - it was too slow, and I did not understand how such a small incident could have such a big effect. I now think that I was just too young to "get" it. Luckily I recently received Enduring Love as a present, and I loved it. The writing and descriptions of thought processes and feelings are amazing, they are insightful and read like poetry. I also enjoyed the out of the ordinary narrative, especially interesting was de Clerambault's syndrome, a disorder that causes the sufferer to believe that someone else is in love with him or her. This is probably not for everyone, but if you enjoy descriptive books that unfold slowly, with a constant sense of foreboding, then give this a try. I am adding more of his books to my TBR list. The Story: One windy spring day in the Chilterns, Joe Rose's calm, organized life is shattered by a ballooning accident. The afternoon, Rose reflects, could have ended in mere tragedy, but for his brief meeting with Jed Parry. Unknown to Rose, something passes between them - something that gives birth in Parry to an obsession so powerful that it will test to the limits Rose's beloved scientific rationalism, threaten the love of his wife Clarissa and drive him to the brink of murder and madness.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Sarah Ames-Foley

    Objectively, I can see the appeal to this. It is generally well-written and there are some interesting aspects to it. Unfortunately, it totally lost me. I found myself mostly bored and not caring enough about the outcome to bother picking it up unless I had nothing else to do. I can certainly see this working for other people, but it definitely wasn't for me. Blog | Twitter | Instagram | Facebook Objectively, I can see the appeal to this. It is generally well-written and there are some interesting aspects to it. Unfortunately, it totally lost me. I found myself mostly bored and not caring enough about the outcome to bother picking it up unless I had nothing else to do. I can certainly see this working for other people, but it definitely wasn't for me. Blog | Twitter | Instagram | Facebook

  28. 5 out of 5

    Fionnuala

    The air of menace that floats over this story seems to me to be out of proportion to the rather insignificant events which unfold. That so much fine writing serves such an unsatisfactory story puzzles me. I sometimes wonder if I don't live in a totally different universe to McEuan...

  29. 4 out of 5

    James

    The third book in the Louise's picks arrangement – (view spoiler)[every quarter I get to pick a book she has to read and she gets to pick a book I have to read – Mutually Assured Reading (hide spoiler)] . Again, she's chosen to introduce me to an author that I've not read before: Ian McEwan. I knew almost nothing about this novel before starting it, except that I'd seen about 10 minutes of the film (starring Daniel Craig) so I knew it featured a balloon, a stalker and a homosexual obsession – non The third book in the Louise's picks arrangement – (view spoiler)[every quarter I get to pick a book she has to read and she gets to pick a book I have to read – Mutually Assured Reading (hide spoiler)] . Again, she's chosen to introduce me to an author that I've not read before: Ian McEwan. I knew almost nothing about this novel before starting it, except that I'd seen about 10 minutes of the film (starring Daniel Craig) so I knew it featured a balloon, a stalker and a homosexual obsession – none of these four being key things I generally looked for in a novel. Straight off the writing grabs you, more so than the plot. It's almost poetry rather than prose. Each sentence is so skilfully constructed, with absolutely no wasted exposition or descriptions. That's not to say the plot isn't also good – who wouldn't get hooked by a story about a group of people who try to avert a ballooning disaster only for one of them to develop a religious/homosexual fixation on another. The real dynamic of the story is the two relationships our main character, Joe, is trying to balance. The one he doesn't want, with Jed, but he can't seem to work out how to convince Jed of that – against the one with Clarissa, his partner, which he's struggling to hold together as a result of the pressure of Jed's presence. Pulled in two different directions, by two different changing relationship, he just wants the stability of the way things were, but he's unable to make either relationship be the way he really wants it to. Not only was this a Louise recommendation, but it's also listed in the 1,1001 Books to Read Before You Die collection, so expectations were high. And, based on the beautiful writing and the first two-thirds of the novel this was a clear winner of a book. But, the longer the story went on, the more I was being led down a path of expecting something special at the end, (view spoiler)[after all nobody apart from Joe had even seen Jed (hide spoiler)] , and the more I worried that I was going to feel let down. And, let down I felt. The ending, just wasn't one. It kind of just fizzled out leaving me feel a little bit cheated.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Barbara H

    On an idyllic spring afternoon, Joe Rose and his wife were enjoying a picnic, when their lovely day was forever changed. A hot air baloon, which had made a dramatic appearance into their scene, went out of control. Many people rushed to assist, but one man perished in their uncalculated attempts at rescue. Jed Parry, another of the would-be rescuers approached Joe, an atheist, and invited him to pray with him. This confrontation is merely the beginning of the turmoil that Parry created in the we On an idyllic spring afternoon, Joe Rose and his wife were enjoying a picnic, when their lovely day was forever changed. A hot air baloon, which had made a dramatic appearance into their scene, went out of control. Many people rushed to assist, but one man perished in their uncalculated attempts at rescue. Jed Parry, another of the would-be rescuers approached Joe, an atheist, and invited him to pray with him. This confrontation is merely the beginning of the turmoil that Parry created in the well-ordered and loving existence of Joe and Clarissa. There were periods during the reading of this book when my interest would begin to flag. Joe, a science writer, would discuss articles or research he had done. While many of these tales were interesting, it seemed often to be out of context to the story. However, it soon became clear that this was a clever device of McEwan's to develop the broad dimensions of Joe's character. Throughout this novel, one has the increasing sense of impending disaster. It often caused feelings of confusion. Was Joe imagining things? Was Parry really stalking Joe? Also, why did he receive so little support and comisseration from his previously devoted Clarissa? Tension built as the story further developed and McEwan adeptly wove this plot toward its conclusion. Ian McEwan is a rarity as an author. He does not simply tell his story and add exciting facts to entertain the reader. His books tend to grow and develop in complexity and texture with even the seemingly thinnest of plots!

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