I was really looking forward to this book. The premise sounded amazing; a High Court judge who must decide if a teenage boy is competent enough to refuse medical treatment on religious grounds. Plus the book was a 212 page novella that I hoped was going to pack a punch like On Chesil Beach.
But that unfortunately wasn’t the case. This did not work for me at all. I did not dislike this book or passionately detest the main character like I did Solar but rather felt complete indifference to it. In fact this book just left me cold and detached. I thought it was because I hadn’t properly dived into the book but even when I did I felt no attachment to the characters or the story. At times the book felt very contrived and laboured.
I initially thought that maybe the book needed to be longer, I needed more time to get to know Fiona Maye, the High Court judge. But after finishing the book I think the opposite might be true, that this might have been a better short story than novella. Much of the problem was that there was nothing very surprising in how the book unfolded. Fiona’s marriage breakdown was not that interesting and the moral dilemma of the court case was almost inevitable in its conclusion, particularly from an ardent atheist.
Maybe I wasn’t in the right reading zone for this book. I’ve been reading some really fantastic fiction lately and that never lasts. When you get on a roll of great books you do start holding other books to a different level of expectation. I love Ian McEwan’s novels and am going to seek second opinions from other readers on this one.
I gave the book to my Mum and she loved it. She was even late to work because she was reading it!
Classification: Modern & contemporary fiction (post c 1945)
Format: Hardback (222mm x 138mm x mm)
Imprint: Jonathan Cape Ltd
Publish Date: 2-Sep-2014
Country of Publication: United Kingdom