Friday, October 10, 2014

The Children Act

Ian McEwan

Fiona Maye is a High Court judge in London presiding over cases in family court. She is fiercely intelligent, well respected, and deeply immersed in the nuances of her particular field of law. Often the outcome of a case seems simple from the outside, the course of action to ensure a child's welfare obvious. But the law requires more rigor than mere pragmatism, and Fiona is expert in considering the sensitivities of culture and religion when handing down her verdicts.
But Fiona's professional success belies domestic strife. Her husband, Jack, asks her to consider an open marriage and, after an argument, moves out of their house. His departure leaves her adrift, wondering whether it was not love she had lost so much as a modern form of respectability; whether it was not contempt and ostracism she really fears. She decides to throw herself into her work, especially a complex case involving a seventeen-year-old boy whose parents will not permit a lifesaving blood transfusion because it conflicts with their beliefs as Jehovah's Witnesses. But Jack doesn't leave her thoughts, and the pressure to resolve the case—as well as her crumbling marriage—tests Fiona in ways that will keep readers thoroughly enthralled until the last stunning page (from Netgalley)

My Thoughts

Fiona Maye is a judge in family court. Her rulings frequently have significant impact on the families involved. One of her cases involves a young teenage boy in need of a blood transfusion as part of his treatment for leukemia. He is a Jehovah’s Witness, a religion that does not condone blood transfusions. Fiona must rule for the hospital, who want to force the young teenager to get the transfusion, or the boy and his family who say they do not want him to receive the transfusion. In the meantime, Fiona is dealing with an issue in her personal life regarding her marriage.

Her decision in the Jehovah’s Witness case has repercussions far beyond what anyone could imagine. This impacts how she sees her marriage and ends up dealing with her husband.

As I have found with other books by Mr. McEwan, his writing is succinct yet descriptive. The Children Act is totally based on Fiona - her thoughts, her feelings and her reactions. What at first glance appears to be a simple story actually turns into an intricately detailed account of one woman’s struggle through a life changing event. The writing is straightforward with not much fluff. Mr. McEwan pulls this off quite well. He is rapidly moving up my list of favorite authors.

Many thanks to Doubleday Books, via Netgalley, for allowing me to read this in exchange for an unbiased review.

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