On the hottest day of the summer of 1935, thirteen-year-old Briony Tallis sees her older sister Cecilia strip off her clothes and plunge into the fountain in the garden of their country house. Watching Cecilia is their housekeeper's son Robbie Turner, a childhood friend who, along with Briony's sister, has recently graduated from Cambridge. By the end of that day the lives of all three will have been changed forever. Robbie and Cecilia will have crossed a boundary they had never before dared to approach and will have become victims of the younger girl's scheming imagination. And Briony will have committed a dreadful crime, the guilt for which will color her entire life. In each of his novels Ian McEwan has brilliantly drawn his reader into the intimate lives and situations of his characters. But never before has he worked with so large a canvas: In Atonement he takes the reader from a manor house in England in 1935 to the retreat from Dunkirk in 1941; from the London's World War II military hospitals to a reunion of the Tallis clan in 1999. Atonement is Ian McEwan's finest achievement. Brilliant and utterly enthralling in its depiction of childhood, love and war, England and class, the novel is at its center a profound--and profoundly moving--exploration of shame and forgiveness and the difficulty of absolution.
On a chilly February day, two old friends meet in the throng outside a London crematorium to pay their last respects to Molly Lane. Both Clive Linley and Vernon Halliday had been Molly's lovers in the days before they reached their current eminence: Clive is Britain's most successful modern composer, and Vernon is editor of the newspaper The Judge. Gorgeous, feisty Molly had other lovers, too, notably Julian Garmony, Foreign Secretary, a notorious right-winger tipped to be the next prime minister.
In the days that follow Molly's funeral, Clive and Vernon will make a pact with consequences that neither could have foreseen. Each will make a disastrous moral decision, their friendship will be tested to its limits, and Julian Garmony will be fighting for his political life. A sharp contemporary morality tale, cleverly disguised as a comic novel, Amsterdam is "as sheerly enjoyable a book as one is likely to pick up this year" (The Washington Post Book World).
From the Trade Paperback edition.
Short story published in the March 28, 2016 Edition of The New Yorker. Also available to read online.
‘You will have heard of my friend the once celebrated novelist Jocelyn Tarbet, but I suspect his memory is beginning to fade…You’d never heard of me, the once obscure novelist Parker Sparrow, until my name was publicly connected with his. To a knowing few, our names remain rigidly attached, like the two ends of a seesaw. His rise coincided with, though did not cause, my decline… I don’t deny there was wrongdoing. I stole a life, and I don’t intend to give it back. You may treat these few pages as a confession.’
A jewel of a book: a brand new short story from the author of Atonement. My Purple Scented Novel follows the perfect crime of literary betrayal, scrupulously wrought yet unscrupulously executed, published to celebrate Ian McEwan’s 70th birthday.
The setting is Berlin. Into this divided city, wrenched between East and West, between past and present; comes twenty-five-year-old Leonard Marnham, assigned to a British-American surveillance team.
Though only a pawn in an international plot that is never fully revealed to him, Leonard uses his secret work to escape the bonds of his ordinary life -- and to lose his unwanted innocence.
The promise of his new life begins to be fulfilled as Leonard becomes a crucial part of the surveillance team, while simultaneously being initiated into a new world of love and sex by Maria, a beautiful young German woman. It is a promise that turns to horror in the course of one terrible evening -- a night when Leonard Marnham learns just how much of his innocence he's willing to shed.
From the Paperback edition.
Fiona Maye is a leading High Court judge who presides over cases in the family court. She is renowned for her fierce intelligence, exactitude, and sensitivity. But her professional success belies private sorrow and domestic strife. There is the lingering regret of her childlessness, and now her marriage of thirty years is in crisis.
At the same time, she is called on to try an urgent case: Adam, a beautiful seventeen-year-old boy, is refusing for religious reasons the medical treatment that could save his life, and his devout parents echo his wishes. Time is running out. Should the secular court overrule sincerely expressed faith? In the course of reaching a decision, Fiona visits Adam in the hospital--and encounter that stirs long-buried feelings in her and powerful new emotions in the boy. Her judgment has momentous consequences for them both.
Whether these are the written transcripts of dreams or deadly accurate maps of the tremor zones of our psyche, all seven stories in this collection implicate us in the most fearful ways imaginable. In one, a two-timing pornographer becomes the unwilling object in the fantasies of one of his victims. In another, a jaded millionaire buys himself the perfect mistress and plunges into a hell of jealousy and despair. In another, over the course of a weekend, a guilt-ridden father with his teenage daughter discovers the depths of his own blundering innocence.
Peter Fortune is a daydreamer. He's a quiet ten year old who can't help himself from dropping out of reality and into the amazing world of his vivid imagination. His daydreams are fantastic and fascinating - only in the bizarre and disturbing world of dreams can he swap bodies with the family cat and his baby cousin, Kenneth, or wipe out his entire family with vanishing cream.
Serena Frome, the beautiful mathematician daughter of an Anglican bishop, has a brief affair with an older man during her final year at Cambridge, and finds herself being groomed for the Intelligence Service. The year is 1972: Britain, confronting economic disaster, is being torn apart by industrial unrest and Irish terrorism and faces its fifth state of emergency. The Cold War has entered a moribund phase but the fight goes on and MI5 hesitates at little
to influence hearts and minds.
Serena, a compulsive reader of novels, is sent by her new employers on a secret mission that brings her into the literary world of Tom Haley, a promising young writer. First, she loves his stories, then she begins to love the man. Can she maintain the fiction of her undercover life? And who is deceiving whom? To answer these
questions, Serena must abandon the first rule of espionage—trust no one.
Ian McEwan masterfully entwines espionage and desire in an unforgettable story of intrigue, betrayal and love.
Now a major BBC drama starring Benedict Cumberbatch
‘Only Ian McEwan could write about loss with such telling honesty’ Benedict Cumberbatch
On a routine trip to the supermarket with his daughter one Saturday morning, Stephen Lewis, a well-known writer of children’s books, turns his back momentarily. When he looks around again, his child is gone. In a single moment, everything is changed. The kidnapping has a devastating effect on Stephen’s life and marriage. Memories and the present become inseparable – as Stephen gets lost in daydreams of the past – and time bends back on itself, dragging Stephen’s own childhood back into the present.
On a windy spring day in the Chilterns, the calm, organized life of science writer Joe Rose is shattered when he witnesses a tragic accident: a hot-air balloon with a boy trapped in its basket is being tossed by the wind, and in the attempt to save the child, a man is killed. A stranger named Jed Parry joins Rose in helping to bring the balloon to safety. But unknown to Rose, something passes between Parry and himself on that day--something that gives birth to an obsession in Parry so powerful that it will test the limits of Rose's beloved rationalism, threaten the love of his wife, Clarissa, and drive him to the brink of murder and madness. Brilliant and compassionate, this is a novel of love, faith, and suspense, and of how life can change in an instant.
From the Trade Paperback edition.
Colin and Mary are a couple whose intimacy knows no bounds. Away on a holiday together in a nameless city, they get lost one evening in a labyrinth of streets and canals. They happen upon Robert, a stranger with a dark history, who takes them to a bar and ushers them down into a subterranean land of violence and obsession.
Ian McEwan’s Somerset Maugham Award-winning collection First Love, Last Rites brought him instant recognition as one of the most influential voices in literature today.
Taut, brooding, and densely atmospheric, the stories here show us how murder can arise out of boredom, perversity from adolescent curiosity, and how sheer evil might be the solution to unbearable loneliness.
While McEwan does not fit the "horror" genre, make no mistake the work here is as horrifying--and frankly terrifying--as anything you’ll find written by Clive Barker or Stephen King. McEwan’s work is finely crafted with a lyricism and an intensity that compels us to confront our secret kinship with what repels us.
In 1946, June and Bernard set off on their honeymoon. Fired by their ideals and passion for one another, they had planned an idyllic holiday, but in France they witness an event that alters the course of their lives entirely. Forty years on, their son-in-law is trying to uncover the cause of their estrangement and is led back to this moment on honeymoon and an experience of such darkness it was to wrench the couple apart.
Ian McEwan is known to skirt the edge with his writing; the fringes of society, to test the limits of what we can handle perhaps in our worlds as we bring his writing home with us and allow a whole new being to enter. So it is with The Cement Garden, the story of dying family who live in a dying part of the city. The father of four children decides, in an effort to make his garden easier to control, to pave it over. In the process, he has a heart attack and dies, leaving the cement garden unfinished and the children to the care of their mother. Soon after, the mother too dies and the children, fearful of being separated by social services, decide to cover up their parents’ deaths: they bury their mother in the cement garden.
ll of the children are free thinking independent-minded teenagers. The story is told from the point of view of Jack, one of the sons, the narrator who is entering adolescence with all of its curiosity and appetites that he must contend with (along with the sure confusion of what the children have done). Julie, the eldest, is almost a grown woman. Sue is rather bookish and observes all that goes on around her. And Tom is the youngest and the baby of the lot.
The children seem to manage in this perverse setting rather well until Julie brings home a boyfriend who threatens their secret by asking too many questions (like what is buried beneath the cement pile, etc), surely threatening the status quo (however morbid) that the children have come to accept as "normal" and as "home". We understand through McEwan that home is not to be defined by anyone else but it is, instead, what you know and have known that makes you feel safe, even if it is rather dangerous and macabre.
In 1962, Florence and Edward celebrate their wedding in a hotel on the Dorset coast. Yet as they dine, the expectation of their marital duties weighs over them. And unbeknownst to both, the decisions they make this night will resonate throughout their lives. With exquisite prose, Ian McEwan creates in On Chesil Beach a story of lives transformed by a gesture not made or a word not spoken.
From the Trade Paperback edition.
In his triumphant new novel, Ian McEwan, the bestselling author of Atonement, follows an ordinary man through a Saturday whose high promise gradually turns nightmarish. Henry Perowne–a neurosurgeon, urbane, privileged, deeply in love with his wife and grown-up children–plans to play a game of squash, visit his elderly mother, and cook dinner for his family. But after a minor traffic accident leads to an unsettling confrontation, Perowne must set aside his plans and summon a strength greater than he knew he had in order to preserve the life that is dear to him.
From the Trade Paperback edition.
An engrossing, satirical and very funny new novel on climate change.
Michael Beard is in his late fifties; bald, overweight, unprepossessing — a Nobel Prize-winning physicist whose best work is behind him. Trading on his reputation, he speaks for enormous fees, lends his name to the letterheads of renowned scientific institutions and half-heartedly heads a government-backed initiative tackling global warming. An inveterate philanderer, Beard finds his fifth marriage floundering. But this time it is different: she is having the affair, and he is still in love with her.
When Beard's professional and personal worlds are entwined in a freak accident, an opportunity presents itself, a chance for Beard to extricate himself from his marital mess, reinvigorate his career and very possibly save the world from environmental disaster.
With a global scope, Solar is a comedy dealing directly with the crises of today. A story of one man's ambitions and self-deceptions, it is a startling and stylish new departure in the work of one of the world's great writers.
Nutshell is a classic story of murder and deceit, told by a narrator with a perspective and voice unlike any in recent literature. A bravura performance, it is the finest recent work from a true master.
To be bound in a nutshell, see the world in two inches of ivory, in a grain of sand. Why not, when all of literature, all of art, of human endeavour, is just a speck in the universe of possible things.