Lessons : the new novel from the Sunday Times No. 1 bestselling author of Atonement

4.06 (18 ratings by Goodreads)
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Discover the Sunday Times bestselling new novel from Ian McEwan.

Lessons is an intimate yet universal story of love, regret and a restless search for answers.

While the world is still counting the cost of the Second World War and the Iron Curtain has descended, young Roland Baines's life is turned upside down. Stranded at boarding school, his vulnerability attracts his piano teacher, Miriam Cornell, leaving scars as well as a memory of love that will never fade.

Twenty-five years later, as the radiation from the Chernobyl disaster spreads across Europe, Roland's wife mysteriously vanishes and he is forced to confront the reality of his rootless existence and look for answers in his family history.

From the fall of the Berlin Wall to the Covid pandemic and climate change, Roland sometimes rides with the tide of history but more often struggles against it. Haunted by lost opportunities, he seeks solace through every possible means - literature, travel, friendship, drugs, politics, sex and love.

Roland's story asks can we take full charge of the course of our lives without damage to others? And what can we learn from the traumas of the past?

'Superb... A wonderful author has delivered another mesmerising, memorable novel' Independent

'Lessons triumphantly achieves its primary aim of conveying the "commonplace and wondrous" intertwining of global history and everyday life' Daily Telegraph
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Product details

  • Hardback | 496 pages
  • 162 x 240 x 43mm | 742g
  • Jonathan Cape Ltd
  • London, United Kingdom
  • English
  • 1787333973
  • 9781787333970
  • 135

Review Text

Compassionate and gentle, and so bereft of cynicism it feels almost radical....
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Review quote

Lessons should have made the Booker longlist (and shortlist) but no matter. It marks a significant new phase in McEwan's already astonishingly productive career - and may well be remembered as one of the finest humanist novels of its age. * New Statesman * A tour de force of breadth... McEwan writes with invigorating alertness about social and political shifts over the past 70 years. * Sunday Times * Superb... A wonderful author has delivered another mesmerising, memorable novel. * Independent * McEwan's prose always goes down like a cool drink, and its content is often trenchant...I'm delighted to have added this thoughtful, touching and historically grounded novel to my bookshelf. -- Lionel Shriver * Financial Times * The Booker-winning author has woven multiple versions of himself into Lessons, his 500-page masterpiece. -- Andrew Billen * The Times * A moving and masterful work that captures the essence of McEwan....The book's psychological astuteness and elegant prose, is a thrill to behold. * Irish Independent * Compassionate and gentle, and so bereft of cynicism it feels almost radical.... -- Beejay Silcox * Guardian * McEwan's deft, descriptive prose charts the complexity of growing up and finding one's place in an ever-shifting world * Cultur Whisper * [A] big, detailed, sweep of history: starting in the aftermath of World War Two and ending in lockdown. And there's lots going on here other than history too - family drama, tales from boarding school, and a vanishing wife * You Magazine, Mail on Sunday * Lessons triumphantly achieves its primary aim of conveying the "commonplace and wondrous" intertwining of global history and everyday life. * Daily Telegraph * One of his most humane and agreeable [novels]. * Scotsman * [Lessons is] an epic tale with domesticity at its centre, encompassing a swathes of history, designed to make you think of the impact of events have on you and, in turn, the impact you make on the world. * List * Lessons spans a long life and recounts each event in details... [McEwan's] skilful writing makes us keen to turn the pages. * Daily Express * [A] deeply absorbing book... Roland emerges as a vivid and sympathetic creation. * Economist * Lessons is a consistently enjoyable read, written...with McEwan's fearsomely intelligent fluency. Roland's shifting perspective on his own past is brilliantly done... here is a whole, unruly life between the covers of single book: a literary feat of undeniable majesty. * Spectator * Lessons... [is] so beautifully done as to provide abundant proof of why McEwan still occupies that number-one spot. * Reader's Digest * Lessons is deep and wide, ambitious and humble, wise and substantial. It is, to my mind, McEwan's best novel in 20 years because it is so alert to human texture and complexity... It marks a significant new phase in McEwan's already astonishingly productive career. * New Statesman * Magnificent and moving, Lessons is up there with McEwan's greatest works. 9/10 * Independent * Lessons is easily McEwan's most accomplished novel since Atonement... he offers intelligent reflection on his novel's evergreen themes * The Times * Lessons has the wonderful freshness that comes when an author tries something new - along with McEwan's customary wit, insight and compassion. * Sunday Express *
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About Ian McEwan

Ian McEwan is the critically acclaimed author of seventeen novels and two short story collections. His first published work, a collection of short stories, First Love, Last Rites, won the Somerset Maugham Award. His novels include The Child in Time, which won the 1987 Whitbread Novel of the Year Award; The Cement Garden; Enduring Love; Amsterdam, which won the 1998 Booker Prize; Atonement; Saturday; On Chesil Beach; Solar; Sweet Tooth; The Children Act; Nutshell; and Machines Like Me, which was a number-one bestseller. Atonement, Enduring Love, The Children Act and On Chesil Beach have all been adapted for the big screen.
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Rating details

18 ratings
4.06 out of 5 stars
5 28% (5)
4 56% (10)
3 11% (2)
2 6% (1)
1 0% (0)
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