Sometimes a book can explore the most mundane of things but still be insightful, eloquent and profound. Saturday, by Ian McEwan, is all of those things. Much in the manner of Joyce, McEwan explores a multitude of contemporary issues through the Saturday of one man – neurosurgeon, Henry Perowne. There is, of course, the contradiction that it is no ordinary, mundane Saturday; coincidentally, this particular Saturday is the day on which hundreds of demonstrators gathered in London to protest against the Iraqi War. Regardless of this, the book remains immensely personal. As Perowne goes about his business, his thoughts are interwoven with reflections on his relationship with his work, his wife and his children.

Saturday really is a brilliant piece of literature. Not so much because of its originality or ‘cleverness’, but simply because it’s beautifully written. Despite all this, though, I found it incredibly – well, not mediocre – just so-so. The first few pages were pleasant reading; wandering through the consciousness of Henry Perowne was an interesting experience. I kept pushing myself further and further, wondering when I was going to fall in love with it. I never did. I continued to enjoy McEwan’s prose, but I just couldn’t connect with the character. Until the very last page, I felt as though I were listening to a foreign language, appreciating the sound and rhythm it, but failing to truly understand. Which is why it’s going to be my book for this week’s Booking Through Thursday:

What, in your opinion, is the best book that you haven’t liked? Mind you, I don’t mean your most-hated book–oh, no. I mean the most accomplished, skilled, well-written, impressive book that you just simply didn’t like.

McEwan’s mastery of the English language is evident in Saturday, as it is in all of his novels. It can’t be denied that he writes beautiful prose, regardless of subject matter. It’s accomplished. It’s skilled. It’s well-written. It’s impressive. It was not a book that captivated me. Perhaps I can’t give this book all the credit it deserves, because every time I hear or read the name “Ian McEwan”, my mind immediately flashes back to the utter brilliance that is Atonement.


6 thoughts on “Saturday

  1. I found it so-so, too. My reading group read it last year and some people loved it, but I thought it was readable and just OK. I did love Atonement, though.

  2. McEwen is one of my favorite authors loved Atonement and Saturday – have you read On Chesil Beach – its a short one ?
    Wow I have come to the end of your posts and I am very impressed – you have inspired me to read more classics…keep up the excellent blogging!

  3. Nope, I haven’t read On Chesil Beach. It’s on my to-read list but I’m not all that enthusiastic about it, after having read this one – I try really hard not to judge authors by their other works, but that’s invariably what happens.

  4. In my opinion, yes. I believe Atonement is generally considered his best novel, even though Amsterdam is the one that won some prestigious prize (I think it must have been the Booker – he does appear rather frequently on the shortlists).

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