The Child in Time

The Child in Time

Paperback Vintage Books

By (author) Ian McEwan

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  • Publisher: VINTAGE
  • Format: Paperback | 256 pages
  • Dimensions: 128mm x 196mm x 22mm | 240g
  • Publication date: 5 June 1997
  • Publication City/Country: London
  • ISBN 10: 0099755017
  • ISBN 13: 9780099755012
  • Sales rank: 26,683

Product description

The Child in Time opens with a harrowing event. Stephen Lewis,a successful author of children's books, takes his three-year-old daughter on a routine Saturday morning trip to the supermarket. While waiting in line, his attention is distracted and his daughter is kidnapped. Just like that. From there, Lewis spirals into bereavement that has effects on his relationship with his wife, his psyche and time itself.

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Author information

Ian McEwan has written two collection of short stories: First Love, Last Rites and In Between The Sheets, and twelve novels: The Cement Garden, The Comfort of Strangers, The Child In Time, The Innocent, Black Dogs, The Daydreamer, Enduring Love, Amsterdam, Atonement, Saturday, On Chesil Beach and Solar. He won the 1998 Booker Prize for his novel Amsterdam. He has also written several film scripts, including The Imitation Game,The Ploughman's Lunch, Sour Sweet, The Good Son and The Innocent.

Review quote

"This book describes the panic of losing a child... The engulfing destructive pain is brilliantly explored" -- Alison Steadman Week "The Child in Time is an extraordinary achievement in which form and content, theory and practice, are so expertly and inseparably interwoven that the novel becomes an advertisement for, or proof of, its own thesis." -- Sheila Macleod Guardian

Editorial reviews

With none of his previous delight in things macabre, McEwan sets a story of domestic horror against a disorienting exploration in time, and ends up with a work of remarkable intellectual and political sophistication - his most expansive and passionate fiction to date. The time of the novel is an era not so unlike our own; the licensed beggars working the London streets are a product of post-Thatcher extremism - a period of even further privatization and more brutal self-interest. Stephen Lewis, once a countercultural type, then a successful children's book author, now sleepwalks through the neo-Hobbesian landscape. Having had his three-year, old daughter stolen in the supermarket, he's also lost his wife, Julie, a violinist who shares a "perverse collusion in unhappiness" with her guilt-ridden spouse. The only interruption in his routine of booze and the boob-tube is his weekly committee meetings at Whitehall on Reading and Writing subcommittee of the Official Commission on Child Care. Stephen's friend and former publisher, Charles Drake, a self-made millionaire and rightist M.P., is being groomed for greater things by the P.M. But after appointing Stephen to the Commission, Charles abandons politics in pursuit of the childhood he never had. While his wife, a former professor, writes about the physics of time, Charles - now "completely mad" - retreats into his life-threatening treehouse. Stephen meanwhile wanders in and out of time, reliving that tragic day at the market, recalling his own childhood as an RAF brat, and experiencing in the present a number of infantilizing episodes. Once he realizes, though, that "all the sorrow. . .had been enclosed within meaningful time, within the richest unfolding conceivable," he recovers from his political quiescence, his creative doldrums, and, most importantly, the numbness which delayed mourning. With spiritual rebirth comes a literal birth - Julie and Stephen's, and McEwan's, quiet affirmation of life. Though intensely cinematic, this subtle and complex novel would require a director of like narrative daring and imaginative genius. (Kirkus Reviews)