Once a year there is a list, often titled with something along the lines 100 Most Influential Novels of Our Time. Books such as Great Expectations, War and Peace, and Moby Dick often make this sought after draft. Once you have read these novels not only do you have the joy (and smug satisfaction) of saying you have read such and such a novel, you become one of many that have come before and have been influenced by these great texts. However I will be the first to admit that some of these books are difficult to stomach. I have attempted to read Madam Bovary multiple times and am very aware of its great recognition in above list however I just can’t get into it. Dare I say it . . . it bores me. (Of course to admit that one does not like any of these great works would mean that you lack an enlightened state and so I save this humble opinion of mine for blog readers only.) On the other side of the scale there are books that fall under the ambiguous term of ‘popular fiction’; instant enjoyment packed in less than 300 words with a colourful cover and a recommendation by Richard and Judy to boot. Sometimes it seems that literary value is compromised for the satisfaction of the masses. However when reading Enduring Love one is not thinking about form, character or structure but instead they are thinking how much they just can’t put the book down.
McEwan’s novel seems to make a polite introduction, with a picturesque summer day and yet without any apologies the reader is thrust into the midst of a horrifying event and then into minds of those severely affected in its aftermath. Those familiar with his work are aware of the amount of time he takes in painting an accurate psychological presentation of his characters. To those who are not, think of McEwan’s psychol
ogical analysis as the literary equivalent of photorealism. However this painstaking detail is not at the cost of the interest of the reader; in fact McEwan’s portrayal of Jed Parry who suffers from a rare psychological disorder is so effective that McEwan includes an article at the back of his book to satisfy the reader’s intrigue. The speed at which the novel unravels gives the reader the quick kick that they seem to so desperately seek (the desperate frenzy to know the outcome hasn’t been seen since the likes of Twilight) however McEwan’s portrayal of time and the dangers of misinterpretation give this novel it’s literary weight.
Like Atonement there has been a movie adaptation of this novel, starring Daniel Craig as the innocent victim Joe Rose and Rhys Ifans as the antagonist; it stands at 100 minutes. However the time it will take you to read this book will seem far less than the time it will take for you to actually be interested in the film. To leave you with this final thought, unlike the quick kick you get from reading that cheesy holiday book that looked so tempting in the airport WHSmith or eating that Big Mac you have craved for so long this won’t leave you feeling guilty and unsatisfied.