This week, I finished reading Ian McEwan's 1997 novel, Enduring Love. It tells the story of Joe Rose, whose life is turned upside down after a freak ballooning accident. One of the witnesses to the tragedy is Jed Parry. Unbeknownst to Rose, Parry believes a powerful connection to have been forged between them during the aftermath of the accident, birthing a dangerous obsession that threatens to destroy Rose's world.
My excitement to read it was heightened by the enthusiastic reviews printed on the back cover:
'A page-turner, with a plot so engrossing that it seems reckless to pick the book up in the evening if you plan to get any sleep that night'
A.S. BYATT, LITERARY REVIEW
'He is the maestro at creating suspense: the particular, sickening, see-sawing kind that demands a kind of physical courage from the reader to continue reading'
'I cannot remember the last time I read a novel so beautifully written or utterly compelling from the very first page'
BILL BRYSON, SUNDAY TIMES
And I agreed wholeheartedly with all of these statements.
As you know, it was his famous masterpiece, Atonement, that first led me to fall in love with McEwan's work. Enduring Love has two major things in common with Atonement.
One: Quite simply, beautiful writing. The critic from the NEW STATESMAN was right on the money when he stated that McEwan was the "maestro" of suspense. The book is a thriller, that's for sure. I stayed up late every night for a week, rapt in the words that he wove around me.
The characters are so human, and I found myself emphasising with Joe to such a degree that I sometimes felt sick with exasperation when Clarissa and the police didn't appreciate the danger he predicted.
Two: The story. Just like in Atonement, the story of Enduring Love is ingeniously original and riveting. It is such an exceptional treat to be able to enjoy beautiful writing and an amazing story. It is so unexpected, so real, so thought-provoking and mind-boggling, putting together characters and scenarios in imaginative ways for results that are shocking and memorable.
Reading McEwan, I have begun to feel like a collector of experiences. His books give readers a chance to live astounding stories.
The film adaptation, staring Daniel Craig and Rhys Ifans, is also excellent. Even if you don't feel like reading the book, a trip to the video library will ensure you appreciate the story-telling genius of McEwan. I was pleasantly surprised by the way it was handled, and it's beautifully shot as well. I popped the trailer down below for your viewing pleasure.