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The Cement Garden

3.57  ·  Rating Details ·  17,525 Ratings  ·  1,273 Reviews
Ian McEwan is known to skirt the edge with his writing; the fringes of society, to test the limits of what we can handle perhaps in our worlds as we bring his writing home with us and allow a whole new being to enter. So it is with The Cement Garden, the story of dying family who live in a dying part of the city. The father of four children decides, in an effort to make hi ...more
Kindle Edition, 153 pages
Published February 11th 2011 by Rosetta Books (first published 1978)
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(showing 1-30)
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Tatiana
Dec 29, 2010 Tatiana rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Tatiana by: 1001 List
Shelves: contemporary, 1001, 2011
Will it reflect badly on me if I say this book isn't sordid enough to be entertaining or truly affecting? Considering how unsettling and uncomfortable it already is?

Four siblings, ranging from 6 to 17, who have too close for comfort of a relationship (if the word "incest" flashed in you mind, you are correct - it is not a spoiler, the "action" starts on page 2), witness both their parents die within the weeks of each other. When their mother dies, they make a decision to bury her in the cellar a
...more
Fabian
Sep 04, 2014 Fabian rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Will ever these tales of incest cease? Well, my true guess is no, for they sure do captivate (looking atchu V.C. Andrews!). Another case in point: this early novel from major Nobel contender (I'm certain of this, right?) Ian McEwan. "The Cement Garden" is considered by critics to be "Lord of the Flies"-like in its plot structure and because it contains young protagonists. But I must venture to say that it mostly resembles an early version of Bertolucci's "Dreamers" (of course by that I mean its ...more
Jared Duran
Aug 15, 2007 Jared Duran rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: those not made uneasy by disturbing literature
Ian McEwan's The Cement Garden is, quite clearly not for everyone. There are several severely disturbing incidents throughout the book that might make some readers wonder why they bought it, and where is the nearest bookstore to return it? There are other groups both of a religious/fascist nature (the two are not always mutually exclusive) that might have it pencilled in on their "things to burn" list.

In the hands of a lesser writer, much of this book would seem vulgar. However, in McEwan's cap

...more
Michelle
May 17, 2009 Michelle rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: novels
This book is fucked-up, sick, and creepy...I loved it. I love McEwan's style. He doesn't clutter his writing with unnecessary words, yet he says so much. His writing is sharp and clean. He is so good at invoking a specific mood at the very beginning of a novel, and then continuing to give the reader that same feeling throughout. Then, just when you're sufficiently creeped out or unnerved or whatever it is you've been feeling, it gets even more intense.

The book is a first-person narrative told b
...more
Cecily
Feb 19, 2012 Cecily rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
McEwan's first novel, published when he was only 30. (It was preceded by an even more shocking collection of short stories, "First Love, Last Rights", https://www.goodreads.com/review/show....)

A profoundly disturbing, but very well written book. Had I realised the true nature of it, I doubt I would have read it, and somehow the fact it is told in such an unjudgemental way almost makes it worse.

"I did not kill my father, but I sometimes think I helped him on his way", is the opening sentence. It
...more
Jessica
I saw the movie version of The Cement Garden in the theater when I was fifteen, and completely freaked out. For years afterwards it stayed high on my list of all-time favorites. I haven't seen it again since then, though, so I have no idea what I'd think now, but at the time I just thought it was the greatest thing ever. Incest! Allegory. Incest! Foreigners! Incest! Cement. Incest! Adolescence. Tragedy! Incest! What more do you want from a film at age fifteen?

Reading this book was definitely col
...more
Teresa
Faltam-me 20 páginas para terminar este livro, mas vou arrumá-lo e já não lhe toco mais.
Por esta frase:
"Sob vários aspectos um livro chocante, mórbido, cheio de imagens repugnantes mas... irresistivelmente interessante." (New York Review of Books),
e pelas 134 páginas que já li, prevejo(-me) um "triste" fim. E não estou para isso...

(view spoiler)
...more
David
Dec 09, 2013 David rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: cross-dressing little brothers, unbathed teenage boys, flowers in the attic
I'm not surprised that Goodreads recommends J.M. Coetzee to readers who enjoyed this, because my experience of J.M. Coetzee was similar to my experience with this book, which was "Yes, a very good writer but ewwwwwwww!"

I have not read Ian McEwan before, and if all his books are like this, I'm unlikely to try him again. I don't mind a disturbing book with unlikable characters who do disgusting things, but you have to give some reason to want to keep reading besides just admiring how skillfully th
...more
Jadranka
Apr 09, 2014 Jadranka rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition

Morbidno, šokantno, uznemirujuće...McEwan odlično piše, a izvetropirena ljudska priroda nikad nije bila mračnije i mučnije prikazana. "Betonski vrt" definitivno nije za svakoga.
Stela
Dec 17, 2013 Stela rated it really liked it
Recommended to Stela by: Fewlas

Concrete Civilisation

Ian McEwan’s Cement Garden left me with the same feelings I had after reading William Golding’s Lord of the Flies. I was aware of their resemblance right from the beginning, not in the sense of an imitation, of course, far from it, but in the choice of the theme and the way to develop it.

Both books argue about the famous nature versus nurture, showing how thin the shell of civilization is, how easy social conventions are forgotten when the link with society is broken. And t
...more
K.D. Absolutely
Jan 23, 2010 K.D. Absolutely rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to K.D. by: 1001 Books You Must Read Before You Die (2006-2010)
Shelves: 1001-non-core
I don’t read the works of a particular author in chronological order. If I want to sample an author, I go straight to his/her most famous work. If I like it, I read 2-3 more of his popular ones and if I still like them, that’s the only time I go to his or her earlier works then probably do the reading chronologically. Of course, I am talking here of authors that have more than 5 works to their name and did not get international fame in their very first or only book.

This is what’s been happening
...more
Tink Magoo is bad at reviews
When I read the description for this book I expected to get a twisted, disturbing tale of incest. What I actually got was a very well written (mildly uncomfortable) story about four siblings who are lost and without an adult to set boundaries.

And really, instead of shocking me I was fascinated. It's short, sharp and packs a punch. I am however, highly annoyed with the ending. THAT WAS NOT OKAY. I like things to be wrapped up, I like to KNOW what happens next and not be left to come to my own con
...more
Lawyer
I was led to Ian McEwan's "The Cement Garden" by Carmen Callil's and Colm Toibin's excellent book, "The Modern Library." Having formed the opinion that I was woefully "unread" after picking up that volume, I decided to take these two authors' advice and dive into those books selected as the most influential books written in English since 1950.

"The Cement Garden," written by McEwan in 1978, is a chilling little book about children living on their own without parents. Essentially, McEwan has const
...more
Will
Mar 28, 2015 Will rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
This was his first novel; it arrived with rave reviews, though to me it seems rather restrained and a little too short. It certainly has an air of unease about it, but I wouldn’t say actual menace; it is more sad and claustrophobic, and (for McEwan) only a little macabre.

Jack, his two sisters and much younger brother are orphaned when his father has an accident while concreting over the garden and shortly after the funeral his mother falls ill and dies. The children don’t as much decide to ento
...more
Jonfaith
Sep 05, 2012 Jonfaith rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Flying through The Cement Garden, I would first advise against reading it just before bed, especially if some Gruyere had been nibbled that evening. Finishing the novella in the cold light of day, I find it remarkably creepy. McEwan achieves perfect pitch. I dare say he strikes closer to The Destructors by Greene than anything else. Many people cited Lord of the Flies as a cousin (no pun intended) but that harrowing tale is reductively feral whereas the trauma of Cement Garden and Graham's lads ...more
Jill
Apr 25, 2008 Jill rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: incest-lovers and people who bury their mum in concrete
Recommended to Jill by: Sarah--DAMN YOU!
Shelves: yuck, audible
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Evan
I came to this book via the excellent 1993 movie version that starred Charlotte Gainsbourg, the gamine, androgynous French actress whose odd beauty -- inherited from her eccentric composer father, Serge, and her svelte model mother Jane Birkin -- I admit an attraction to. As usual she dropped trou in the movie, so I was not disappointed.

Gainsbourg was about 21 when she made the film, but was portraying a 16 or 17-year-old adolescent or thereabouts, and looked the part; her character, Julie, seem
...more
Diva
Apr 22, 2012 Diva rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
simple and very quick to read, finished this within a day and a half.I found it very difficult to know what to feel for the majority of the book - shock and disgust seem somewhat unwelcome considering the circumstances laid out early on. The implied incestuous activity between the siblings makes one both uncomfortable yet oddly sympathetic. it is not out of sexual attraction that these actions occur, but with the pure necessity of being wanted; being held - simple actions which cannot be fulfill ...more
Bruce
Nov 02, 2013 Bruce rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I have read and enjoyed many of McEwan’s novels, but most of those have been written in the past decade. I was interested in reading this, his first published novel, and comparing it with his later work. The one was published when McEwan was thirty years old in 1978 and had been preceded by a collection of short stories.

The story is simply told although clearly very odd. Four children ranging in age from 6 to 16 are orphaned rather suddenly. There seem to be no relatives and essentially no socia
...more
Rohisa
Is it just me or there’s some perverse fascination in exploring depraved human behavior and looking at the workings of a close-knit, socially dysfunctional families?

However apart from the initial shocking fascination The Cement Garden didn’t make a big impression on me and the reason is the style of Ian McEwan writing. He didn't make the subject matter sounds controversial, disgusting or revelatory. He told it in the matter of fact tone, leaving nothing behind the scene. This doesn’t sound like
...more
KamRun
May 02, 2015 KamRun rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
راوی داستان باغ سیمانی فرزند دوم (جک) یک خانواده 6 نفری است. تمام داستان در خانه، حیاط و کوچه ی منتهی به خانه می گذرد. اندکی بعد از مرگ پدر، مادر خانواده نیز می میرد و فرزندان از ترس از هم پاشیدن خانواده و جدا شدن از یکدیگر، مادر را در صندوقی در زیرزمین خانه، میان سیمان دفن می کنند... زاویه دید اول شخص ، سادگی نثر، نقل خاطره وار وقایع در فضایی دلهره آور از عوامل جذابیت داستان است. در ارتباط با سانسور ترجمه فارسی که باعث تغییر فاحش در ساختار داستان شده، پیش از این مطالبی شنیده بودم و در حین خواند ...more
joe
Nov 13, 2007 joe rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: hungry, hungry hippos.
this is the first novel by Ian McEwan that I have read. it is concise and tightly written and you really get the impression that McEwan understands his narrator, a 14-year-old boy who's parents have recently died, leaving four siblings on their own.

the two older siblings in effect become the head of the household, and make a decision to keep the family together that has troubling consequences.

that one can relate to the narrator is equally disturbing and heart breaking...
Michelle Hoover
Jan 06, 2016 Michelle Hoover rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Oh, this is a dark and troubling book, just my cup of tea. Some readers might get squeamish about the sexuality in the book, but I think innocence reigns in the end, in an unexpected and provocative way.
Greg
May 26, 2007 Greg rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
Not nearly as creepy as the movie, which was pretty damn creepy.
Martine
Jul 09, 2008 Martine rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: people who are not easily put off
Is there a 'natural' state to which children revert when there are no parents around to keep an eye on them, and if so, are we allowed to judge and intervene if that 'natural state' goes against society's ideas of what is natural and acceptable? That is the question raised (but not answered) in The Cement Garden, Ian McEwan's 1978 debut as a novelist. The 138-page novella is about four children who, following the deaths of their parents, decide to go on living together as if nothing had ever hap ...more
Adrian
Feb 09, 2008 Adrian rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
I picked up this book at the library because "Atonement" wasn't available. Having seen the movie version of "Atonement" I figured that reading one of Ian McEwan's earlier works would be an ideal way of getting a good idea of what McEwan's writing style is like.
Having now read "The Cement Garden" I must say that whoever continued reading his books were brave people. If I had no idea that his storytelling abilities had improved I would never again read one of his books. In fact, I would probably l
...more
Evan Gottlieb
This is Ian McEwan's first book, and it shows in some ways -- it's far more explicitly (and sexually) creepy than his more recent novels. But the essential McEwan style -- polished, smooth, but with unexpected word usages -- is already here, as is the essential McEwan plot structure: something terrible happens, decisions are made, and then the ramifications play out for the rest of the novel. I would probably recommend this book mostly to people who are already fans of McEwan's later novels (e.g ...more
Alexandra
Nov 06, 2010 Alexandra rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: belletristik
Es ist wirklich komisch, dieses Buch. Vier entwurzelte Kinder, deren Eltern beide innerhalb kürzester Zeit versterben, wollen nicht voneinander getrennt werden und versuchen daher den Tod der Mutter zu vertuschen. Durch die permanente Verdrängung und Verleugnung des Erlebten und die Vertuschung kommt es zu unglaublichen Aktionen, wie Einbetonierung der Mutter, Verwahrlosung, Gewalt und letztendlich Inzest zwischen den älteren Kindern.

Ich habe mich lange gefragt, warum ich so einer Geschichte vie
...more
Renee
Dec 09, 2007 Renee rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
"The Cement Garden" is the strangest book I've ever read, and probably the grossest too. The narrator is a disgusting, 15-year-old boy named Jack who lazes around the house, doesn't much care for bathing, and harbors sexual feelings for his older sister. When his mom dies (dad's already dead), it's Jack's idea to bury her in a trunk in the basement with cement. The descriptions of the smell the trunk emitted still make me cringe and overall, as another reviewer said, the book leaves you feeling ...more
Maciek
Jan 28, 2011 Maciek rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: read-in-2011
Did you guys knew that Ian McEwan started out as a horror novelist? The Cement Garden is his first novel - it's creepy and disturbing, though much of these aspects has dimmed with time. It was published in 1978, when a lot of creepy fiction got printed (Flowers in The Attic anyone?) and was billed as "shocking, morbid, full of repellent imagery". It's an extremely quick read - only 120 pages long - and written in clear, concise style - in truth it's more of a short story, but at 120 pages it nev ...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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“Girls can wear jeans and cut their hair short and wear shirts and boots because it's okay to be a boy; for girls it's like promotion. But for a boy to look like a girl is degrading, according to you, because secretly you believe that being a girl is degrading.” 225 likes
“At the back of my mind I had a sense of us sitting about waiting for some terrible event, and then I would remember that it had already happened.” 17 likes
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