Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “The Child in Time” as Want to Read:
The Child in Time
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

The Child in Time

3.59  ·  Rating Details  ·  7,007 Ratings  ·  472 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 (first published 1987)
More Details... edit details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about The Child in Time, please sign up.

Be the first to ask a question about The Child in Time

The Handmaid's Tale by Margaret AtwoodEnder's Game by Orson Scott CardThe Color Purple by Alice WalkerMatilda by Roald DahlWatchmen by Alan Moore
Best Books of the Decade: 1980's
341st out of 1,354 books — 1,591 voters
Pride and Prejudice by Jane AustenJane Eyre by Charlotte BrontëThe Lord of the Rings by J.R.R. TolkienWuthering Heights by Emily Brontë1984 by George Orwell
Best British and Irish Literature
299th out of 862 books — 974 voters

More lists with this book...

Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
filter  |  sort: default (?)  |  Rating Details
K.D. Absolutely
Jan 23, 2011 K.D. Absolutely rated it liked it  ·  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
Dec 15, 2011 Shovelmonkey1 rated it did not like it
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
Sep 04, 2009 Cecily rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Apr 13, 2011 Szplug rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Apr 14, 2007 Lauren rated it liked it
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
Sep 24, 2012 Pollopicu rated it did not like it
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
Luís Blue Coltrane
I totally adhered and understood the path of this couple completely dilapidated by the death of this child. Guilt, stunning, depression, the desire to get out anyway and indestructible hope of reunion that destroys everything.
May 30, 2010 Shane rated it it was ok
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
Sep 22, 2009 Barbara rated it really liked it  ·  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
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
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
Apr 13, 2015 Tony rated it it was ok
THE CHILD IN TIME. (1987). Ian McEwan. **.
I never thought I’d rate a book by this author as low as this, but here it is. Frankly, I had to put it down at about page 100, never to be picked up again. I think I know what the author was trying to do, but I’m not sure I could explain it to anyone else. It’s a novel about time, and it’s fluidity. It is set in a slightly dystopian future that mimics the realities of our present time. England has a female prime minister, who, though not named, has the
Mar 10, 2010 Erica-Lynn rated it it was amazing
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
Lori Bamber
Jul 27, 2013 Lori Bamber rated it really liked it
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
Adrian White
Feb 11, 2016 Adrian White rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Closer to early, surreal Ian McEwan than what we've become used to over the past few years and unnerving in the manner of his first short stories. I enjoyed it; I just didn't warm to the tone of his narrator. Interesting that it contains a fantastic set-piece ( a car crash) that is a telling foretaste of the balloon incident in his following book, Enduring Love. And the ending; very human and very emotional.
Ryan Williams
Apr 08, 2016 Ryan Williams rated it really liked it
The Child in Time is the happiest of McEwan’s novels. It also fizzes with intelligence. Reflecting on his screenplay for the film The Ploughman’s Lunch, McEwan remarked that the characters started out bad and got worse. Here, they start out wounded and get better.

Though the year is never specified, the setting is plainly England in the 1980s. I don’t know why more isn’t made of the novel's political dimension. Politics and fiction, of course, go together like pyromaniacs and dynamite factories.
Nelson Zagalo
"A Criança no Tempo" é um trabalho no qual McEwan procura subverter a estética do romance trágico, evitando focar-se sobre a tragédia e levando o leitor pela mão ao longo dos momentos comuns de um regresso à normalidade por parte dos seus protagonistas. Teria sido muito mais simples focar toda a energia na narrativa do drama que emerge depois de um rapto de uma criança, mas McEwan optou por se colocar no lugar dos pais, nomeadamente do pai, na sua tentativa para regressar ao mundo, vendo através ...more
Jan 25, 2011 Rob rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Mar 12, 2012 Ethan rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
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
Oct 22, 2015 Bianca rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I read "Child in Time" by Ian McEwan, and liked it a lot! I cannot, however, pinpoint some exact quotes. The style of writing is fluid and elegant, somehow visceral but also realistic in its condensation and extension of time. And the themes discussed are personal, presented in a crystallizing manner. Sometimes, as a reader, I felt like zooming in to see what happens with a character, beyond time and space, to his/her heart and to all that lies in close vicinity. There is also a constant feeling ...more
Mădă Kruppa
Oct 26, 2014 Mădă Kruppa rated it really liked it
Nu știu cine a zis vorba asta, dar a avut mare dreptate : "Copilăria e singurul paradis pierdut".
O carte de o profunzime și o simplitate emoționante.
Mikael Kuoppala
Ian McEwan’s third novel followed his streamlined masterpiece “The Comfort of Strangers,” which presented a dark, twisted tale of obsession. “The Child in Time” is also dark in its set-up: it tells the story of a children’s author whose three-year-old daughter has been kidnapped.

We follow the author, Stephen, mainly two years after the tragic event in a near-future Britain where totalitarianism is slowly creeping into power. Stephen himself is involved in a council of experts set to define prope
Lewis Weinstein
Sep 17, 2009 Lewis Weinstein rated it did not like it
Shelves: fiction-general
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.
Rachel Louise Atkin
Kind of disappointed in this novel, because usually I love McEwan's intelligent prose. I found that the plot really let him down here however.
Classically, it starts with a single event that happens to the main character that changes the course of his life. As with most McEwan novels, it was dramatic and gripping and I loved the first chapter. I felt like this kind if spiraled out of control though, and by the end there were so many threads of the story that for me just didn't make sense together
Aug 04, 2016 Liz rated it liked it
As always, McEwan delivers a smooth blend of lovely descriptive prose, superbly embedded exposition and characters with an insane amount of depth for a novel which is only just over 200 pages long. I think I say this in every review of a McEwan book but his talent for squeezing so much into such a small number of words is incredible. When I finish any of his books I always feel like the journey he has taken me on has been far longer than one would imagine it could be from seeing the size of the ...more
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
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
Le valutazioni di questo libro sono molto alte, anche le recensioni presenti sono entusiastiche per lo più. Io non ho trovato tutta questa bellezza in questo libro, che diciamolo subito e chiaramente, è scritto in maniera perfetta: la narrazione è esteticamente di altissimo livello, una scrittura forte e stilisticamente nulla da eccepire. Magnifico.
Solo che a volte è lento, a volte fuori dal contesto della storia, le divagazioni politiche del luogo e del momento poi sono a tratti insopportabili
Dorothy Tu
Jul 08, 2012 Dorothy Tu rated it really liked it
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
Jan 13, 2013 Frank rated it it was ok
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
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 99 100 next »
There are no discussion topics on this book yet. Be the first to start one »
  • O Senhor Ventura
  • A Costa dos Murmúrios
  • Gente Feliz com Lágrimas
  • Era Bom Que Trocássemos Umas Ideias Sobre O Assunto
  • Sinais de Fogo
  • O Caso Morel
  • Maurice Guest
  • Fanny Owen
  • Húmus
  • Balada da Praia dos Cães
  • The Shadow-Line
  • Don Giovanni in Sicilia
  • The Man Who Watched Trains Go By
  • The Weather in the Streets
  • Love For Lydia
  • Arcadia
  • Nação Crioula
  • The Smile at the Foot of the Ladder
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 about Ian McEwan...

Share This Book

“For children, childhood is timeless. It is always the present. Everything is in the present tense. Of course, they have memories. Of course, time shifts a little for them and Christmas comes round in the end. But they don’t feel it. Today is what they feel, and when they say ‘When I grow up,’ there is always an edge of disbelief—how could they ever be other than what they are?” 11 likes
“...children are at heart selfish, and reasonably so, for they are programmed for survival.” 2 likes
More quotes…