Leading High Court judge Fiona Maye, the protagonist in The Children Act, is faced with difficult moral decisions from every direction, the first being from her husband, who wants her permission to have an affair. This unexpected proposal throws her off, making her unstable and unsure of what to do. After arguing with him ineffectually, she eventually kicks him out, changing the locks the next day. Soon after, a case at work comes up that becomes entangled in her marriage crisis: a seventeen-year-old boy, soon to be eighteen, is refusing life-saving treatment on religious grounds, and Fiona Maye must decide whether to enforce the treatment, or to follow his and his family’s wishes. A relationship forms between her and Adam, the boy, after she visits him in hospital, causing powerful emotions to form in both of them.
I was struck, as I was from Saturday, by McEwan’s ability to gracefully describe an otherwise boring and esoteric situation at work: this time, court scenes and legal documents. His fascination with this world is evident, and the reader is compelled to feel the same. McEwan’s writing is, as usual, beautifully succinct yet descriptive, making for a highly enjoyable and addictive read; I loved its compactness, as I felt much less intimidated by it then I might have been if it had been longer.
I would highly recommend this book for people interested in learning a little about Family law, and what being a judge is like. I would also recommend it to people who are familiar with and enjoy McEwan’s distinct style and approach to writing. As with Saturday, although set in a relatively short time frame, this book’s pace is not slow. This book is suitable for 13-year-olds and older.
My Ratings (out of 10 As):