The Child in Time
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The Child in Time

3.61 of 5 stars 3.61  ·  rating details  ·  4,950 ratings  ·  369 reviews
Stephen Lewis, a successful writer of children's books, is confronted with the unthinkable: his only child, three-year-old Kate, is snatched from him in a supermarket. In one horrifying moment that replays itself over the years that follow, Stephen realizes his daughter is gone.With extraordinary tenderness and insight, Booker Prize-winning author Ian McEwan takes us into...more
Paperback, 263 pages
Published November 2nd 1999 by Anchor Books (first published 1987)
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K.D. Absolutely
Jan 23, 2011 K.D. Absolutely rated it 3 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to K.D. by: 100 Must Read Books for Men; 1001 Books You Must Read Before You Die (2006)
My fourth book by Ian McEwan. Enduring Love. Amsterdam. Atonement. The more I read his works, the more I get convinced that he is the author who knows how my brain is wired. He knows what I want, what I expect from my reading, how I would like my brain to be stimulated, how to keep me awake and keep on reading till the wee hours of the morning.

Reading his books is like drinking a perfect blend: just enough decaf coffee, enough non-fat milk and brown sugar. Those are healthy choices because had I...more
Shovelmonkey1
Dec 15, 2011 Shovelmonkey1 rated it 1 of 5 stars Recommends it for: people who were children
Recommended to Shovelmonkey1 by: the 1001 books list (wrongly if you ask me)
Zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz... oh yes, where was I? Mmm, reviewing The Child in Time by Ian McEwan...I remember now. To summarise; an overview of what it is to
a) be a child
b) have a child
c) lose a child
d) regress to a child like state (with the finally irony being that once you've gone through the first three and spend a lot of the book daydreaming about what it would be like to get your child back, you choose to ignore and abandon your friend who, for reasons of a personal/mental health/ sexual nature has...more
Szplug
I was steered towards this—my first encounter with Ian McEwan—several years ago subsequent to discovering in an interview with troubled actor Tom Sizemore that he deemed this book one of the greatest novels he had ever read. Since at the time I was personally in a state of mind that allowed me to relate quite sympathetically with his particular struggle against demons, I impulsively purchased a copy of the book later that same day.

While I can't agree with him on the novel's relative merit, McEwa...more
Cecily
A superb book about every parent's worst nightmare (a child goes missing), but you don't need to be a parent to appreciate it because it is primarily a story of loss, family (is it a couple, parents and children or a patriarchal institution such as the RAF?), distortions in (the perception of) time and reality, and of growing up and of regressing.

Stephen Lewis is a children's author who also sits on a government committee that is meant to produce a handbook on childrearing - to regenerate the U...more
Lauren
Apr 14, 2007 Lauren rated it 3 of 5 stars Recommends it for: Anglophiles, depressives
I always have the same reaction to McEwan's books: why does an author who can create passages about human disturbance and misery that ring so true insist upon adding elements into every novel that ring so false? Setting aside his formulaic plotting (barely plausible but not entirely ridiculous tragedy occurs, human relationships suffer - or don't - in the aftermath), why does McEwan throw in government ministers who wear short pants and freeze to death; or possibly-magical religious fanatics; or...more
Barbara
Sep 22, 2009 Barbara rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition Recommends it for: Maria, Susan
A routine, but joyful trip to the supermarket ends in tragedy. Steven Lewis's three year old daughter, Kate has disappeared from his side during a brief lapse of his attention.This book deals with the deep emotional turmoil and sorrow which he and his wife, Julie attempt to endure and to continue their existences following this loss.

Although at times the narrative seemed to drag and cause me to question the direction McEwan had taken, further analysis following my reading proved that it was quit...more
Shane
An internal novel that plays on its title: the search for childhood lost or to be yet found, and time moving back and forth in waves, weaving past and present into one tapestry.

In typical McEwan tradition, the novel hovers around a singular event - protagonist Stephen loses his three year old daughter in a supermarket -an event that send his marriage and personal life into a dark spiral. As Stephen tries to grapple with his loss and revisits his own lost childhood, his friend and one-time publis...more
Pollopicu
Ok, that's it. I'm done with Ian McEwan. This book was total bullshit.
This was my third book by the author, and this is why I don't like reading too much by the same writer, especially popular "NYT best-seller" authors. I purchased this book because I thought it was going to be about a three year old girl (Kate) who gets kidnapped at a supermarket while out with her dad. True, McEwan wastes no time in describing the kidnapping in the very first chapter of the book, but after that the rest is ab...more
Robert Beveridge
Ian McEwan, THE CHILD IN TIME (Penguin, 1987)

Something happened to a number of bang-up in-for-the-kill horror writers in the early to mid eighties. I'm still trying to figure out what. Patrick McGrath, who'd given the world some of its most wonderfully gut-wrenching tales in _Blood and Water_, started writing slick, witty novels that came to just this side of horror. Clive Barker started writing fantasy. Anne Rivers Siddons gave us one of the definitive modern haunted house novels and then start...more
Ben Babcock
Childhood is magical.

There is a myth, or at least a misconception, that this is a result of children being innocent. If you have ever been a child, then if you look deep into your heart, you will recognize this as the lie we tell ourselves to conceal the painful truth. Childhood is magical because it is inaccessible. Once gone, it can never be reclaimed, revisited, redone. It is lost to us except through the unreliable route of memories and mementos. Childhood is almost like a separate, first li...more
Erica-Lynn
In what might be Ian McEwan’s least-read, but perhaps best novel, The Child In Time, a children’s book author, Stephen, must come to terms with his three-year old daughter’s abduction and, presumably, her death. Complicating this heart-breaking situation is Stephen’s wife Julie, who has hermited herself away in the countryside, and the fascinating and surreal parallel stories of Stephen’s own childhood, and that of his best friends—his publisher and his wife, a physicist. “The child in time” is...more
Ryan Bushell
The story has a simple premise with a complex message. The premise is that a father takes his child shopping and the child is abducted whilst in his care. In the years after the abduction, we follow the father in his grief. The way in which we interact with our everyday surroundings is explored as is the way in which we conduct ourselves and our work and how things are sometimes overlooked to fulfil our own needs - with no real thought about our actions on others. The protagonist is so wrapped u...more
Rob
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Ethan
Beware: this review contains some spoilers (although if you're thinking of reading this book for the plot, you should look elsewhere).

I have no idea how Ian McEwan did it, but he managed to take a bunch of interesting events (the loss of a child, a car crash, a friend going insane and committing suicide) and make them booooooring. Maybe the writing is absolutely brilliant. I can't tell. The figurative language is okay, the imagery is okay (I've seen far better from populist genre writers), the r...more
Lori Bamber
I'd like to think that reading this book is akin to taking a guided tour through Ian McEwan's mind. It is not what I thought - based on the cover material - it is about. It is about the nature of time, and relationships, especially our relationship to ourself. It is about the fact that we know very little about ourself, about the people closest to us (never mind those at a distance) and about what is really going on in our lives. It is about grief, the healing nature of joy, and about the way th...more
Lewis Weinstein
It's not correct to say I finished this book; I just stopped reading. With one exception (The Innocent) I have put down every McEwan book I tried to read. I find his initial premises fascinating, but after 50 pages or so, I start to get bogged down in what I would call "over-writing," by which I mean writing for the author and not the reader. The story becomes relatively meaningless, and even the characters are subservient to the writer's phrase. I'm probably in a minority, but that's my take.
Christine
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Marc Maitland
One of Ian McEwan’s earlier offerings. It contains all of the characteristics found in his later novels, and therefore it comes as no surprise that the finely written intrigue of human relationships tantalises, right to the very end.



There are disparate threads, such as the abduction of a child, the palpable sense of loss, marriage breakdown, journeys made, membership of a government committee, constant seeking, the fascinating interaction between passage of time and events, interesting sexual co...more
Dorothy Tu
My third book by Ian McEwan (first was The Cement Garden, then Amsterdam). Again, the writing is beautiful and something I can get lost in, and with this beauty McEwan is consistent. In Cement Garden, he fashioned the a supreme eeriness, in Amsterdam the lighthearted, and in this book, the grief and displacement that comes with any tragedy.

I get lost in that displacement with Stephen, the main character of this story, yet this empathy for him made me frustrated too because there were a lot of in...more
Frank
Here's how it went: first, there was casual sightseeing in McEwan's beautiful sentences, then full investment in the harrowing disappearance of the protagonist's daughter, then a slog through a few chapters in which I contemplated cutting my loses, then a slide into the gentle rhythms of the writing, and finally I was at the end. It's the story of the dissolution of a marriage in the wake of said disappearance, though it's the husband's story as the wife is relegated to symbolic status. The prob...more
Mark Wilkerson
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Caela Harrison
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Bee Bishop
I first read this 14 years ago when I was studying A level English literature. I disliked the language, the depressing tone and felt no empathy for the characters. I'd seen McEwan give a lecture and thought he was pompous. So for years I've sworn I'd never read a McEwan book again. That was until one of our book sharers read and reviewed it, and kindly lent me his copy. we'd talked about how the books you're 'made' to read at school can make you love or loathe a genre/author and this was a class...more
Tad
Wow, what an unexpected story. The loss of a child almost becomes a minor theme to the effects the occurrence has on those who remain. Beautifully written, it’s a story that exudes so much humanity and the reality of sadness. McEwan has a unique gift with his writing and I felt consistently confronted with what I would do if I suffered the same circumstance. For instance, how does ones day end when your child is abducted? Can it? How inconsolable it must feel. How unimaginable his wretched sense...more
Sunny Shore
This is my 6th McEwan book and probably my least favorite, but I gave it a 3 anyway. It was written quite a while ago and maybe it would've changed for the better, had he been writing it today....don't know for sure, but McEwan has improved with age. Also, I was not crazy about the ending and at times, the story was hard to follow and dragged at too many spots for me. Other than that, this is a worthwhile and of course, well-written story about a children's book writer, Stephen Lewis, whose 4 ye...more
Tortla
Beautiful and satisfying.

McEwan represents complexity and ambiguities with eloquence. There are interesting thematic links between authority and childhood and time and the act of creation and...life and death. The sense of completeness upon reaching the conclusion of this novel was kind too amazing for me to come up with an adequate review. McEwan is excellent.

There are probably weaknesses in plotting/tone, but I'm too impressed by the overall effect to care much at the moment. Maybe I'll feel...more
Melanti
I'm not sure what to make of this novel. It was strange, to say the least. It does have a few hints of time travel in it, sort of. Barely. And it had a few hints of magical realism, sort of. Barely.

But I don't think McEwan was really trying to go the magical realism route - at least not consciously.

I read an essay the other day that examined why "literary" people like magical realism and turn their noses up at normal fantasy. The article proposed that there was a spectrum of fantasy with surrea...more
soul
Така и още нямам избистрено мнение за тази книга. През цялото време, докато я четях, ми се струваше ужасно (и излишно) разхвърляна, на места спъваща, но понеже това е Макюън, му дадох шанс до последната страница. Според анотацията от корицата очаквах да е задълбал върху семейството и какво се случва с двамата след загубата; как се борят или не, как се губят и търсят; бягствата им от проблема и от тях самите - нещо примерно като филма Rabbit Hole (http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0935075/).
Децата наис...more
Rebecca
This is an incredibly sad, poignant book that describes the collapse of a couple's marriage (and mental health) after their three-year-old daughter is kidnapped in a grocery store. Although Ian McEwan does a great job, as usual, of writing about things you never thought could be put into words, I wouldn't recommend this book to everyone I know, like I did with Atonement, his most famous novel. Even though Atonement was at times painful to read, it didn't quite cut me to the quick the way The Chi...more
William
Less ambitious authors would be content to dedicate their novel to the immediate premise of The Child in Time: the loss of a family's innocence and its hopes for recovery after the theft of a child. McEwan works here as he does in later, more widely known novels, with layered presentations of theme and a greater effort to explore the loss of childhood to those stolen into adulthood, and how parents are often stolen from their own lives by childbirth. The decision to have a child becomes signific...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
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