Home > Ian McEwan > #4. the comfort of strangers

#4. the comfort of strangers


I just finished reading this novel a few minutes ago. Here, bear witness to my immediate [eloquent] reaction to the book: My God, My God, My God. Yesterday, when I was about mid-way through the book, I had quite a bit more to say. I scribbled this in my trusty old notebook:

Ian McEwan

He has constructed a story so complete that author and work seem “other” from each other.

It is not as if he created this world, it is as if these characters already existed, and somehow he has convinced them to make themselves available to us on paper.

Economical, precise; not a single description accidental or out of place.

The sense of evil creeps up on you—like the score before a particularly horrifying murder scene—and you wait, heart already dropping, for the final affirmation.

Mary and Colin are a couple on holiday in a famous city, possibly Venice, although the name of the city is never actually mentioned. In the beginning, they appear to be having problems—they are not talking, and they have slept together only once since they first arrived. All this changes one evening, when wandering [lost] through the city, they meet Robert, a very insistent man who takes them both forcibly under his wing.

This is a horror story laced quite liberally with erotic references–which will make it well worth the read for some. But I would like to emphasize that what makes this book truly winning is the precise grace of McEwan’s delivery. He does not hover over his characters at all; he simply allows the reader to enter completely into Mary and Colin’s world. It is a very effective style.

For sheer writing ability, and deadly shock value, I award this book four and a half stars. I am officially an Ian McEwan fan. I’ll definitely be reviewing a lot more of his books here.

Categories: Ian McEwan
  1. August 27, 2010 at 12:28 pm

    I had exactly the same reaction, although nothing can trump “Saturday” for me.

    I’m new to your new blog and loving it.

  2. Lev
    October 17, 2010 at 12:23 pm

    Just finished reading last night. I agree … OH MY GOD!

    Thanks for the recommendation. 🙂 Keep the coming!

  3. Lev
    February 1, 2011 at 10:20 am

    Please write some more. 😦

    Love Lev.

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