Ian McEwan’s reputation goes before him and The Children Act did not disappoint. It is the story of a High Court judge (Fiona May) who deals with family matters. Three cases are discussed in some detail – one a divorce case between a jewish couple determining where the female children should be schooled, another about cojoined Siamese twins where it will condemn one of the twins to certain death if they are separated and the case of a boy of the Jehovah’s Witness faith, suffering from leukaemia whose parents are refusing him a life saving blood transfusion. The legal arguments for each case are complex and compelling and I found fascinating.
At the same time Fiona’s marriage is at crisis point and needs as much careful consideration, deliberation and care as those cases before her. The decisions she makes both in the court cases and her personal life and her rationale have consequences that she doesn’t expect or anticipate. What these are I won’t say as it may spoil the book for any who read it. For me the ending was totally unexpected.
McEwan’s writing is elegant and shows great mastery. Although only a short book, it packs a big punch. It makes you look at your own belief system. Question what is morally right, where you stand in the world.
Would I recommend this book – yes I would. I think it would be enjoyed by all readers. Both my husband and I rated this narrative highly – quite unusal that we are both in total agreement about a book so I have no hesitation in recommending it for reading by any gender.