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The Cement Garden

3.57  ·  Rating Details  ·  15,287 Ratings  ·  1,102 Reviews
'A superb achievement: his prose has instant, lucid beauty and his narrative voice has a perfect poise and certainty. His account of deprivation and survival is marvellously sure, and the imaginative alignment of his story is exactly right'--Tom Paulin

In the relentless summer heat, four abruptly orphaned children retreat into a shadowy, isolated world, and find their own s

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Paperback, 138 pages
Published June 5th 1997 by Vintage (first published 1978)
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Tatiana
Sep 06, 2011 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
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Michelle
May 21, 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
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Jared Duran
Aug 16, 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

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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
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Cecily
Oct 31, 2013 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
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David
Jan 03, 2015 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
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Stela
Jul 23, 2015 Stela rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
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Fewlas
Dec 16, 2013 Fewlas rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Eine unheimliche Dystopie

Si può dire del Tedesco che non sia una lingua propriamente dolcissima, ma quando si tratta di trovare i termini adatti per descrivere stati d’animo e situazioni impalpabili e incorporee, i Tedeschi battono tutti. E così hanno inventato questo bel termine: das Unheimlich. Tradotto in Italiano come “Il perturbante”, talvolta come “Il sinistro”, questo termine è, a mio avviso, intraducibile, e si riferisce alla sensazione che si prova quando qualcosa si avverte allo stesso
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K.D. Absolutely
Feb 20, 2011 K.D. Absolutely rated it liked it
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
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Will
Dec 15, 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
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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
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Jonfaith
Sep 19, 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
Kamran
May 04, 2015 Kamran 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
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
Jill
May 06, 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.
joe
Nov 20, 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 26, 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
Jun 28, 2007 Greg rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
Not nearly as creepy as the movie, which was pretty damn creepy.
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
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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
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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
Jan 20, 2011 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
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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
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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
Renee
Jan 13, 2008 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
Cassy
When someone asked me what the book was about, I blurted out “Incest!” I must have shown more enthusiasm than is appropriate, because they gave me a really odd look.

I appreciated this book’s insight into how children might behave when the parents are absent. I felt uncomfortable for the entire length, which is far better than the apathy most recent reads have engendered. And I was impressed by McEwan’s subtle writing and look forward to reading more of his work.
Roberto
Oct 04, 2015 Roberto rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Quattro ragazzi rimangono orfani del padre, un uomo anafettivo, e poco dopo anche della madre, che si lascia morire di inedia. I quattro fratelli iniziano quindi un lento degrado (quasi una "decomposizione") che va di pari passo con quello della madre, che i ragazzi decidono di cementare in un baule in cantina. Tristi similitudini quelle tra la madre seppellita nel cemento e il giardino, cementato dal padre prima di morire e tra l'abbandono del giardino e quello dei figli.

Il libro in pratica va
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Laura
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Chris Blocker
Jan 27, 2014 Chris Blocker rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Without a doubt, the best thing about The Cement Garden is the author photo. That's not to say the book is so bad that the photo stands out as being exemplary; instead, it is meant to be an indication of how awesome the photo is. Now I know, some may have read more recent editions of this novel, and for those individuals I am truly sorry, because they've missed out. You see, that Ian McEwan we all know, the one with the feathery gray hair, suit jacket, and professorly stare, once aspired to be t ...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
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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.” 190 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.” 13 likes
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