Tag Archives: Ian McEwan

Nutshell

Nutshellby Ian McEwan

Trudy is separated from her husband, John, and is living in the matrimonial home with his brother Claude, carrying John’s baby, as they plot to murder said husband, John.

It would be a love triangle, but with the narrator of this particular tale being the unborn baby, it gets a little complicated – more of a love rectangle!

Nutshell is an original concept, although the plot itself is extremely simple. In fact, the story is little more than an outline. It is the narration by the un-named unborn child that pushes the book within a whisker of 200 pages.

There is plenty of humour and just a touch of suspense. Will they or won’t they go through with the planned homicide of Trudy’s estranged husband? Can a pair of drunks really manage the perfect murder? Will the unborn narrator be born at Her Majesty’s Pleasure? Will he ever know his father? 

I found the whole thing a little strange and I’m still undecided about whether I enjoyed it or not. It is at times very funny and is an easy read. The plot does not challenge in any way and there are very few characters to keep a track of. But for me there was far too much waffle and not enough substance. 

Atonement

by Ian McEwan

AtonementI am not familiar with McEwan’s work, but I did see the film several years ago so thought it was worth a punt.

Now, normally when you read the book after seeing the film you get much more in the way of plot and characterisation. To be fair to film makers, you can’t normally fit the entire content of a novel into a 2 hour film. Something generally has to give, in this case, I can say that rather than base the film on the book, they turned the book into a film! As I read the book I could see the events in the film very clearly, with nothing left out or added. 

The story begins in the summer 1934 when the Tallis family are preparing for the return of the eldest son. But for the two sisters, Briony and Cecelia, the events of this day are set tpo change their lives, and that of family friend Robbie Turner, forever.

The youngest of three, Briony has been indulged and spoilt by her older brother and sister and their mother. They have all encouraged then young girl’s active imagination. But on this day, when she is introduced to the complexities of the adult world, her imagination leads her to commit a crime that will break her family apart.

As the story moves on to 1941 and the horrors of the second world war, Briony faces the reality of her past mistakes and sets out to seek atonement from her estranged sister.

It is a captivating story that takes us from the innocence of the pre-war home counties to London in 1999. I found the story engrossing and was left in no doubt of the depth of feeling between the characters. My only criticism is that some of the passages on the book were a little over long. Whilst I like to know about the characters and their deeper feelings, I felt that at times this could have done a lot more succinctly. 

Having said that, I enjoyed the book immensely. McEwan is a great story teller, taking the reader with him every inch of the way. The characters are well defined and believable, the prose are strong and deliver all the emotion and horror of the events he portrays. The descriptions of the experiences of Robbie as he makes his way to Dunkirk, and Briony as she deals with victims of that great exodus, are detailed and instructive, but never gratuitous. 

I loved the book and will have to add Ian McEwan to my wish list. I may also have to seek out the film again, any excuse to watch Keira Knightly!