I read widely from many genres. Perhaps this blog will feature fewer ratings and reviews, but I certainly intend to write about my reading life - it's the subject I most find myself wanting to talk about.
Ian McEwan's 2014 novel "The Children Act" is one of his shorter volumes, and it may seem like a deceptively simple story. But the pages turned very quickly, not necessarily because it's a super-exciting plot, rather because the underlying tensions of life are kept in perpetual play.
I'm not saying that McEwan did this deliberately (it's possible), but it's more likely the underlying skill of the storyteller who knows how to play with theme and character. If a literary scholar was to sit down and make a list of all of the dualisms of life that play out in this little story, he or she probably could come up with dozens of examples -- desire vs. obligation, age vs. youth, silence vs. communication, faith vs. reason -- just the barest few examples.
Don't get me wrong, this novel isn't a polemic. It's entirely subtle that these things are happening and in play, but it's what keep this story from being static and obvious. I am a big fan of McEwan's work (although I've read little from the earlier "Ian Macabre" period, so that may be mediated somewhat when I catch up). And it's always the subtleties that get me, the things that elevate the craft of the story to high art. -cg