Hello wonderful readers of my blog!
Today’s book post is Ian McEwan’s book ‘Enduring Love’. I have to admit, I studied this book in detail at A-level, however that’s a few years ago now and I re-read it with fresh eyes only to come up with the same conclusion- I was not for or against this book. Don’t get me wrong, this book is interesting and the story is unusual with some taboo’s, something McEwan is known for. I liked McEwan’s other novels including ‘Atonement’ and ‘Amsterdam’ (hmm, maybe I only enjoy his stories that start with the letter A…) but certain aspects of this book made me feel no love lost when I finished it.
The book starts off with a couple, Joe and Clarissa, who are out in the countryside celebrating their affections towards each other when they are witness to a horrible accident in which a man dies. They are shook by the event but little do they know that their troubles are just beginning. They were not the only ones witness to that horrific accident involving a hot-air balloon, no. Jed was there too.
Jed becomes obsessed with Joe believing he is in love with him. The book suggests Jed is suffering from de Clerambault’s syndrome, also known as Erotomania. It is a delusional disorder where a person believes another is in love with them. It can even happen having never met that person, being involved in an event with the other or other factors. Jed’s obsession not only puts strain on Joe and Clarissa, but also puts them in danger as Jed’s passions grow.
I have to say, the story is unusual and I respect McEwan for taking on such a different novel. However, I have to say it was the descriptive narrative I was not fond of. For example, the horrific accident involving a hot-air balloon at the beginning is described from different angles (e.g. from an overhead bird) making it hard to initially connect with the story and characters. It is an unusual way of writing, something that has cropped up in a few of McEwan’s novels which is interesting, but in ‘Enduring love,‘ it’s the entire novel. Personally, it made it a bit hard to concentrate on the story.
I also found little sympathy for Joe and Clarissa- perhaps the way they were described left them with little personality. Furthermore, there is little background to the characters which makes it hard to understand them and they way they think. I didn’t know if it was McEwan’s intention to make the character’s dull and ordinary so that it was only the events of the book the readers were supposed to focus on. I would still have liked some more depth to the characters though.
A FEW SPOILERS AHEAD- DON’T READ ON IF YOU DON’T WANT SPOILERS! (SKIP THIS PARAGRAPH AND GO TO TITLE ‘RECOMMENDATION’)
I did however find myself to sympathize with the ‘anti-hero’ of the book, Jed. He wasn’t necessarily a villain, just someone with a disorder that unfortunately caused harm to himself and others. I felt very sorry for Jed in the end; his love for Joe is unrequited and it is implied he is still suffering from his disorder. I found the ending very sad, especially how Jed is alone in the end. It reminded me of another McEwan novel- ‘The Cement Garden’. Another book of his I was not a fan of, especially due to the sad ending. I found the ending ‘too sad’. A silly thing to say but hear me out- I understand when books have tragic endings, and I understand why- they fit with the story, or they shock the reader. But I felt in ‘Enduring love’, it wasn’t necessary. I am not saying that Joe was wrong not to keep in touch with Jed, that is understandable- a person who put Joe and everyone he loved in danger is finally out of their lives. Still with a lasting effect after certain events, but completely understandable. I just felt after all of Jed’s suffering of mental illness and being made out to be a villain when he was just ill, he deserved a happy ending in a way. In his own world, he did. He believed his letters to Joe after being institutionalized actually reached him and they would be together one day again. In a way, this is even sadder as he is still delusional.
I felt relieved when I finished this book, it just wasn’t for me. I do know people who love this book and will praise it and praise it till the cows come home. But that is the beauty of books- there is something out there for everyone, a book yet to be discovered, a story yet to be read. I would recommend this book to anyone who loves unusual thrillers and Ian McEwan’s novels. McEwan’s stories are worth being read- I guarantee you won’t read anything like his books! They are certainly different!
In all fairness, this book is a dramatic thriller full of suspense and unease. It can be fair to say Ian McEwan’s books are meant to shock the reader- I was definitely shocked at times! ‘Enduring Love’ has not put me off his books; his 14th novel ‘Nut-Shell’ is on my reading list! It re-tells Shakespeare’s famous play ‘Hamlet’ in the eyes of an unborn child… I did say his stories were different!
If you’re interested in this book, it is stocked in most well known book shops and retailers.
As always, happy reading! Lx
P.s. comment on my blog or my Instagram (@books_beyond_the_story) of what book(s) you were not a fan of, I am curious!