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The Children Act

3.66 of 5 stars 3.66  ·  rating details  ·  15,242 ratings  ·  2,304 reviews
Fiona Maye is a High Court judge in London presiding over cases in family court. She is fiercely intelligent, well respected, and deeply immersed in the nuances of her particular field of law. Often the outcome of a case seems simple from the outside, the course of action to ensure a child's welfare obvious. But the law requires more rigor than mere pragmatism, and Fiona i ...more
Hardcover, 240 pages
Published September 9th 2014 by Nan A. Talese (first published 2014)
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Jonathan My wife is a family law barrister and says it is pretty accurate - fiction, but based on detailed research and pretty similar to the kind of things…moreMy wife is a family law barrister and says it is pretty accurate - fiction, but based on detailed research and pretty similar to the kind of things she regularly deals with. (less)

Community Reviews

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Emily May
Do you like to people watch?

You know what I mean... just sit somewhere in a busy place and watch people bustle past in all their colourful weirdness. It's a habit I've acquired with age. Sometimes I think back to being a teenager and remember how I always wondered if I was strange in some way - I guess a lot of teens wonder that same question: am I normal? I wonder, had I taken the time to people watch back then, if I would have felt so lost and strange. I don't see how I could have. People are
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Caris
Jul 31, 2014 Caris rated it 4 of 5 stars
Shelves: 2014
Goddamn you, Ian McEwan.

The whole time, I was bracing myself for the hit. That totally unexpected punch to the throat, simultaneously filling you with pain and a total fear of your impending mortality. Because the fucker hides them. If they weren't so meticulously planned, they'd be cheap shots.

But it didn't happen, because this isn't one of those books. It's not like Saturday. More like On Chesil Beach. That's not to say it isn't powerful and revolting in its way, just that it isn't one of tho
...more
John Grisham
THE CHILDREN ACT is about the law and sensational cases, but it is not a legal thriller. Rather, it is a beautiful and sad story of a High Court Judge forced to choose, literally, between life and death. Her ruling, though proper and legally sound, leads to both.
Sharon
I have to stop reading McEwan's books, because I never enjoy them. There's something clinical, removed, about the way he tells his stories - I don't get the sense that he likes human beings, and he is writing about them to display his proficiency with structure and nuance rather than out of interest or sympathy. This is probably a three-star book, but a two-star experience.
Julie
Perhaps it’s best I read The Children Act in the space of a day, curled on my sofa. Otherwise I might have been spied in my favorite cafe purring like a contented cat, stroked by the sublimity of Ian McEwan’s prose.

Words adore Ian McEwan, submitting readily to his firm but empathetic hand. They are sleek and gorgeous dancers to his choreography; alone, the words are admirable, but under his direction they assume nuance and strength. His works never fail to take my breath away. It is a comfort t
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Dem
For me The perfect little story

BOOKCLUB RE-READ for FEB.....

I really enjoyed this short novel about a London Family Courrt Judge called Fiona Maye who oversees cases that deal primarily with children.
I listened to this book on audio and while I sometimes struggle with audio books I found the narration on this particular one excellent.

This is a extremely well thought out and structured novel, not a word is wasted as McEwan paints wonderful vivid characters and scenes. The novel is short and
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Kelly (and the Book Boar)
Find all of my reviews at: http://52bookminimum.blogspot.com/

Fiona is a successful, middle-aged, Family Court judge who finds herself being confronted by her husband about his desire to have an affair. In the midst of her marital turmoil, she must also preside over one of the most important cases in her career – that of a 17-year old Jehovah’s Witness who wishes to take his chances of surviving leukemia without receiving a life-saving blood transfusion due to his religious beliefs. Can she save
...more
Maciek
As I began to read The Children Act, I thought that it would be the antithesis to McEwan's other novel, On Chesil Beach, where the marriage of a young newlyweds is damaged beyond repaid in a single moment, by what essentially is lack of communication.

In The Children Act the couple is much older and has been married for decades - Fiona is a 59 year old court judge, and is married to Jack, a 60 year old professor of ancient history. They have been together for 35 years, and led what could be desc
...more
Ron Charles
Believers of a millennial bent might consider this a sign: It’s not every summer that we get two dark and serious novels focused on Jehovah’s Witnesses. The first was Scott Cheshire’s “High as the Horses’ Bridles” about a boy preacher who drifts from the faith. And now, the second coming: Ian McEwan’s “The Children Act,” which puts the church’s beliefs on trial. Surely, members of this small Christian sect would prefer, instead, to get their own hilarious Broadway musical, but authors work in my ...more
Marialyce
How truly utterly perfect was this story! The story was of a family court judge, her husband, her "on the rocks" marriage and the young man so tragically ill who came into her life and offered her love and the chance for redemption.

It was a beautiful story and one that sent goosebumps down your spine as the ending approached and try as you might you could not change it. Caught up in the turmoil that parents and religion can oftentimes put children through, the novel captures the true element of
...more
cameron
I could just strangle Ian McEwan. I said the same thing after reading On Chesil Beach. While reading that book, which I bought NEW, I realized it had been a short story in the New Yorker to which he had added a few pages and then called it a book. It was a good short story but never enough for a book. I wrote him and chided him for the switch but to no avail.
The Children Act felt the same way to me. Maybe he's putting his kids through college and needs some quick dough. I thought the marriage p
...more
Jill
The thing about Ian McEwan is he’s just so versatile and psychologically astute. He never revisits the same plot lines and themes twice. So I always find that a new book of his is cause for celebration.

The Children Act is short, spare and yet rich – Enduring Love and On Chesil Beach come to mind. It centers on England’s 1989 Children Act, which placed the welfare of children as the court’s paramount consideration.

Judge Fiona Maye – “My Lady” – has reason to come head-to-head with the Children Ac
...more
Tatiana
So incredibly banal in every way.

I am asking myself - how is this any different from what Jodi Picoult writes? The central conflict and the moral dilemmas at the core of this novel (a Jehovah's Wittness boy refusing a life-saving blood transfusion on religious grounds) are ripped not even from newspaper articles, but from a wiki page. Every argument in this book you've already read and heard, if you have any interest in the justice system or religious beliefs.

There is nothing new to ponder on he
...more
Kim

After being traumatised by The Child in Time when I read it in the late 1980s, I spent more than twenty five years avoiding Ian McEwan. I overcame my unreasonable fear of reading his work in the last couple of years and very much enjoyed On Chesil Beach and Sweet Tooth. So I embarked on this novel with some confidence that I would like it a lot.

The main protagonist, Fiona Maye, is a married woman in her late 50s. An English High Court judge in the Family Division, her day-to-day work requires h
...more
Diane S.
An author, I believe, takes a risk when he centers his novel around one character. So often a reader will rate their enjoyment of the book on whether or not they can relate to the character. In this story the main character is Fiona, approaching sixty she is a high court judge in the family court. She had given up the idea of having a child, concentrating on her career. She is long married to Jack, but their marriage has now hit a big road block.

In the beginning I felt a huge distance from the c
...more
Leah
Banal, unconvincing and arrogant...

High Court judge Fiona Maye's comfortable life is rocked when her husband of many years announces that he would like her permission to have an affair. The poor man has his reasons – apparently he and Fiona haven't had sex for seven weeks and one day so you can understand his desperation. (Am I sounding unsympathetic? Oh, I haven't even begun...) This shattering event happens just before Fiona is to preside over a case where a hospital is seeking permission to g
...more
Blair
I had absolutely no intention of reading this - McEwan is not a writer whose past books have impressed me as much I expected them to (I've read Enduring Love, Amsterdam and On Chesil Beach and rated them all averagely). I just started reading a preview to see what it was like, and was so swept up in the narrative I had to continue reading the book.

This is a simple, short, elegant novel about a female judge, Fiona Maye, who is called on to make a quick decision in an urgent case: she must decide
...more
Carol
Audio edition, superior narration by Lindsay Duncan…

The Hook - Ian McEwan is high on my list of favorite authors. You either get him or you don’t.

The Line – “When a court determines any question with respect to … the upbringing of a child … the child’s welfare shall be the court’s paramount consideration. --Section 1(A), The Children Act, 1989.”

The Sinker – The above quote cites the essence of this story about a family court Judge, Fiona Maye charged with decisions that protect the welfare of ch
...more
Dianne
I love Ian McEwan - his writing is perfection, as always, but I felt slightly let down by the ending of this one.
Trish
In calm, clear, patient English McEwan presents a particularly agonizing example of the stunning success and haunting failure of a juridical system, indeed, of a well-tempered, well-disciplined judicial mind. A transcendently wise decision over a matter of life and death cannot save a vital, loving, innocent teenaged boy without concomitant fulfilment of the obligation to prepare him for the world. McEwan’s prose is precise, alluring, devilish, revealing in a paragraph a history, in a pause an a ...more
Angela M
Don’t let the fact that this is a pretty short novel deceive you into thinking that there is not much substance here. When I finished reading this book, I couldn’t stop thinking about the enormous power that Family Court judges have over the lives of so many young children whose families are in crisis and then even if the decision seems right, what happens to these children afterwards? Fiona Maye, a High Court Judge in the Family Division of the Courts in England (and this could be anywhere) ha ...more
Elyse
"My Lady is Captivating"!

"Adam Henry is Captivating"

This entire story is """CAPTIVATING"""!!!

Delicate Situations!!!!!!

Written with real energy --totally 'ALIVE'....

I've been a long time fan of Ian McEwan --and this small novel (with 5 parts) --confirms the depth and breadth of Ian's talents!



kate
Ian McEwan, what *am* I going to do with you?

He and I have a bit of a strained relationship. But it's not so much a matter of my not "liking" his books, or of thinking that they aren't "good" in some quantifiable sense of what "good literature" should be. I'm always, at the very least, engaged in the text, pulled along by the characters, by McEwan's prose -- and the same is true for The Children Act. But I never know what to expect from him, and he leaves me with a bit of a weird-queasy feeling.
...more
Lou
Aug 06, 2014 Lou rated it 5 of 5 stars
Shelves: arc
Ian McEwan in this novel he has you within the shoes of an interesting female protagonist.

Her field of profession is the court system, dealing with adult matters but also ‘A Children Act’, and one particular case involving adults and children in a tug between the lines of death and living, with faith overshadowing the decision.

This one particular case is her greatest challenge yet due to unforeseen circumstances and decisions, whilst tackling her own troubles close to home, her marriage.
This tal
...more
Cynthia
Fiona is at the top of her life professionally working as a child and family court judge yet her personal life is crashing. McEwan returns to his much used theme of lovers estranged. In “Chesil Beach” and “Atonement” and many other of his books it was young lovers but In “Children” the couple is in their late 50’s/early 60’s but what they share with some McEwan protagonists is emotional upheaval in the form of potentially inappropriate outside relationships. McEwan does this so well. He puts tog ...more
nancy
I devoured this book in just a couple of sittings. Its sparse yet enormous story captivated me in so many ways...and, of course,
there's Ian McEwan's writing. I was immersed in his prose, his characters and his plot to the point where I was no longer reading..in a sense,
I was living along with Fiona, a woman I will not soon forget.
Ellie
Ian McEwan is a wonderful writer and his prose in The Children Act is him at his best. The book is worth reading if only for the beauty of his writing.

Fiona Maye is a High Court judge in London's family court. The case before her is of a 17 (almost 18) year old boy whose family is refusing blood transfusions needed to save his life because of their religious beliefs. While Fiona, a precise and brilliant judge, is weighing the pros and cons of this, her marriage is in crisis. The story of the mar
...more
Larry Hoffer
I told a friend on Goodreads recently that I find myself running hot and cold on Ian McEwan's books. I really enjoyed Enduring Love but couldn't tolerate Atonement (and I know I'm in the minority on that one). Yet something about his newest book, The Children Act intrigued me—perhaps I wondered what a McEwan-esque take on what sounded like a plot from a Jodi Picoult novel would be like.

Fiona Maye is a well-respected High Court judge presiding over family court cases. Yet while she comes across a
...more
Kats
I'd forgotten just how good a writer Ian McEwan is. His plots / subject matters don't always interest me, and when it's dull and drawn out (like "Solar" which I abandoned after about 50 pages), the prose seems pretentious and almost academic. However, with a storyline as interesting as in "The Children Act", his writing really shines; it is so fluid and engaging. I actually wanted the book to be longer even though the story had come to an end. Masterful writing; even the descriptions of various ...more
Jessica Woodbury
One big question with a McEwan book is which kind is it. Is it one of his books that starts soft and then turns into brutality? Is it one of his meticulously told small stories? Some combination of the two? The Children Act is more of a small book, which with McEwan is not at all a bad thing. Just as On Chesil Beach was a small book with a big impact, I love how The Children Act really zeroes in on one thing with intelligence and with eyes wide open.

Fiona is a judge in family court. At its dulle
...more
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Ian McEwan was born on 21 June 1948 in Aldershot, England. He studied at the University of Sussex, where he received a BA degree in English Literature in 1970. He received his MA degree in English Literature at the University of East Anglia.

McEwan's works have earned him worldwide critical acclaim. He won the Somerset Maugham Award in 1976 for his first collection of short stories First Love, Last
...more
More about Ian McEwan...
Atonement Saturday On Chesil Beach Sweet Tooth Amsterdam

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“Blind luck, to arrive in the world with your properly formed parts in the right place, to be born to parents who were loving, not cruel, or to escape, by geographical or social accident, war or poverty. And therefore to find it so much easier to be virtuous.” 8 likes
“Everyone knew the urge to run from the world; few dared do it.” 4 likes
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