The Children Act is the 13th novel by Booker Prize winning author, Ian McEwan. Its the highly entertaining and immediately gripping story of high court judge, (Fiona Maye) who must decide the fate of a 17 year old boy (Adam Henry), a Jehovah’s Witness, who’s refusing life saving treatment for cancer because of his religious beliefs. Added to that main plot are the marital problems Judge Maye experiences at home (husband Jack wanting to spice up his love life by having an affair with a younger woman). There are other mini sub-plots and cases which McEwan impressively packs in to a book barely 200 pages long.
The fast paced opening along with its sharp dialogue and descriptions instantly grip the reader in, taking you along for the ride through some of London’s busiest streets, from the Kings Road to Grays Inn Road and then the court house.
On a visually aesthetic level, the short story could easily be turned into an ITV drama in the same mode as Law and Order for instance. The scenes are visually appealing while, for the most part, the characters are believable as is the main case in question.
Arguably, McEwan´s exploration (or lack of it) of the boy’s religion and beliefs could have been given more careful consideration and perhaps less scrutiny; there was a sense of the judge’s reasoning in the case overshadowing a deeper understanding of the boy and his family’s religious beliefs.
Overall though, the book is a really interesting read; one in which the reader will not want to put it down because of the subject matter as well as the surprisingly unexpected twists along the way. For those reasons McEwan may just have pulled off writing another top book but only just!
© Copyright 2016, Darell J Philip