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A daily record of what I'm thinking about what I'm reading

To read about movies and TV shows I'm watching, visit my other blog: Elliot's Watching

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Seven weeks and a day (would have been a good title for McEwan's novel)

Started Ian McEwan's The Children Act - helpfully, he includes a quote explaining the act, a piece of British law that establishes that decisions in family court will be made in the best interest of the child (how novel) - and, though it's a little slow out of the gate it looks to be a pretty intelligent and thought-provoking novel Central character is a 60ish (but still beautiful, as a colleague remarks) family-court judge in London, sitting a lone and drinking heavily while working on some decisions; we soon learn that her husband, an academic (of course) has told her he wants to have an affair with a 20-something in his office or department - he's 60+ and will never have another chance, blah blah blah, but he still loves his wife and doesn't want to end the (childless) marriage. He wants it all, in other words. I his defense, he notes and she concurs that they have had ext for months (7 weeks and a day, he says - which she notes sounds like a sentence). Of course what anyone but a shit would do would be to discuss this problem and maybe get some couples therapy and try to save the marriage, but he seems like a shit. She of course suggests none of this, either, and tells him if he has the affair (which she suspects as would anyone that it's already under way - and you have to suspect that the 20something wants her claws into this guy and his $, right?) she will give him the boot. This rather tawdry and familiar marriage plot is enriched by discussion of several cases the judge has presided over or is working on: one of conjoined twins, one of whom cannot survive for more than a few months and will kill them both when he dies - should doctors be allowed to separate the two to save the life of one, over parental objection? The other: two young girls in struck orthodox Jewish family, parents separate and the mother wants them in a more secular environment, to which the father objects - what's in the best interest of the children? Though it seems obvious to side with the more secular mother, is that the right choice or just the one we would make? Remains to be seen how well McEwan uses these "case histories" - will he develop these two into full subplots, or will there be many to illuminate or parallel or even undercut various elements of the main plot? Hope he doesn't have too many such case histories, as the narration of same feels summative and dutiful rther than engaged and dramatic. He's done his research, though.

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