The Child in Time, by Ian McEwan

Stephen Lewis is the author of a successful children's book (or books) and is serving on a government committee whose brief is to come up with some kind of document that is going to become some sort of official childcare manual. But his heart isn't really in it: some years ago his own daughter disappeared/was abducted and since then his life has been on hold.

I came across this in the library just after finishing Atonement on audiobook. I've read it before, must have been more than six years ago though.

I remember not really "getting" this book the first time I read it, and the same thing happened again here. The book has a dreamy feel - it's set in an alternate reality which is slightly off-kilter: the government is evidently more authoritarian, and certain world history events are different. And this makes Stephen's story a bit harder to empathise with because you're not sure how much like a real person he is. The narrative also moves back and forth in time quite a bit, and Stephen himself has dreams/visions - all this contributes to the sense that you're not meant to be taking this literally.

The writing was really good: descriptions and prose were very impressive. But I just felt I wasn't sure exactly what the book was trying to say - I think it was raising questions about time and possibility (one of the characters is a physicist who talks a bit about infinite possible worlds) but I'm not sure if the book itself has any conclusions of its own.

So I liked it, but felt a bit like I missed something.

Completed : 04-Sep-2009 (audiobook)

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