The Children Act, by Ian McEwan

Fiona is a High Court judge who specialises in cases to do with family disputes. During the course of the story, she is involved in a few different cases, the main one relating to Adam, a young Jehovah's Witness, who refuses a blood transfusion against the wishes of the doctors who want to treat him.

As the story opens, Fiona's marriage is entering a sticky patch, with her husband wanting her permission to have a fling. It's quite interesting and convincing to see how she manages to keep her personal and work life separate: you'd have thought it would be nearly impossible to switch off from thinking about some of the really tricky problems she has to rule on, but it doesn't stretch credulity when she does.

With Adam, some element of her personal and professional life do look like they risk getting a bit entangled: she decides that simply hearing arguments in court is not sufficient and that she needs to visit Adam in hospital to be able to decide for herself whether he is Gillick competent. I was a bit surprised by the conclusion she came to after meeting Adam, but her ruling made it sound completely sensible.

The discussion of the legal issues are really interesting: not just Adam's case but the others too, as well as some non-family matters which come up in dinner-table discussion when she's talking with other judges and barristers.

There were echoes for me of Saturday, where the poem "Dover Beach" played a significant part: in this book, Fiona and Adam bond over a piece of music, whose lyrics seem really poignant. I didn't make a note of what it was so can't name it here.

The reader was Lyndsay Duncan, who was just right. I really enjoyed the book and got through it super quickly.

Completed : 9-May-2019 (audiobook)

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