BookBrowse Reviews Saturday by Ian McEwan

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Saturday

by Ian McEwan

Saturday by Ian McEwan X
Saturday by Ian McEwan
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  • First Published:
    Mar 2005, 304 pages

    Paperback:
    Apr 2006, 304 pages

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'An exemplary novel, engrossing and sustained...undoubtedly McEwan's best.'

From the book jacket: Saturday is a masterful novel set within a single day in February 2003. Henry Perowne is a contented man — a successful neurosurgeon, happily married to a newspaper lawyer, and enjoying good relations with his children.

On this particular Saturday morning, Perowne's day moves through the ordinary to the extraordinary....he makes his way to his regular squash game with his anaesthetist, trying to avoid the hundreds of thousands of marchers filling the streets of London, protesting against the Iraq war. A minor accident in his car brings him into a confrontation with a small-time thug. To Perowne's professional eye, something appears to be profoundly wrong with this young man, who in turn believes the surgeon has humiliated him — with savage consequences that will lead Henry Perowne to deploy all his skills to keep his family alive.

Comment: Since publishing his first volume of short stories more than 30 years ago, McEwan's fiction has explored the places that most of us hope we never have to visit outside of a book - as one reviewer once put it,  "For McEwan, happiness has rarely gone unpunished."

In this case, Henry's average middle-class day evolves into something truly sinister, allowing McEwan to explore what lengths a humane and civilized man might go to to protect what he holds dear from raw terror.

Early in his career, McEwan was criticized for writing full length novels that could  have been condensed into short stories.  It could be argued that a day in the life of one man could easily be told in a short story but McEwan's gift of observation fills all 300 pages with nary a wasted word. 

"A sort of middle-class humanist manifesto: when you find yourself fortunate beyond all measure in a random universe, gratitude, generosity, and compassion are a decent response." -- Kirkus Reviews

"...operating at the height of his formidable powers... Artistically, morally and politically, he excels." -- The Times, London.

This review was originally published in The BookBrowse Review in March 2005, and has been updated for the April 2006 edition. Click here to go to this issue.

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