Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Ian McEwan: Enduring Love

Another of mr Bani's buys. On the cover is a quote from Bill Bryson saying that it's "beautifully written" and "utterly compelling from the very first page". I suspect that Bryson is very attracted to our main character, Joe Rose, who is a scientist-turned-writer/television persona. Now, it is well written - but it ain't all that, all the same.

The storyline is that Joe Rose and his wife witness a hot-air balloon accident, resulting in one death. Another man present, Jed, meets Joe's eyes immediately afterwards, and this results in a sickly romantic fixation (on behalf of Jed, not Joe). So while Joe and his wife are trying to cope with the trauma of witnessing the tragedy and the guilt, they also have to cope with Jed stalking Joe. And Joe's wife is none too sure that it's not all in Joe's head, or that he isn't in some way causing it.

The novel starts out very philosophical. A lot of thinking, a lot of what-ifs and if-onlys. Sort of like Jonathan Safran Foer, whom I must now admit that I never finished reading (but I blame the fact that it was a translation and I never got sucked in). I liked this bit, and by the time it started becoming a more conventional thriller-type story I still had high hopes that it would be original, thanks to the pensive beginning. However, it doesn't live up to expectation IMO, but sort of peters out into a predictable showdown. And then we get some sort of epilogue that purports to be written by the psychologists in charge of Jed, who sum up the nature of his fixation, describe its causes and cures, and also slip in the "what happened next".

I'm not sure what to make of that. I usually quite like that kind of genre-mixing, but I was disappointed this time.

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