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The Child in Time

3.59  ·  Rating details ·  8,040 Ratings  ·  559 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, 272 pages
Published September 6th 1988 by Penguin Books (first published 1987)
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Belinda Missen Hi Renee,
I love how he plays with time. Some of it is very fluid and creeps slowly around a few seconds of time in what seems like pages. Other…more
Hi Renee,
I love how he plays with time. Some of it is very fluid and creeps slowly around a few seconds of time in what seems like pages. Other times, we're treated to a skip of a few weeks within the simplest paragraph. I thought of this question as I was reading last night. I haven't reached the end, yet, so can't otherwise comment on whether it was dull or not. :)(less)
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30)
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Cecily
Aug 22, 2009 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
...more
K.D. Absolutely
Jan 16, 2010 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
...more
Shovelmonkey1
May 29, 2011 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
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
Pollopicu
Sep 15, 2012 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
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
Bam
Stephen Lewis, the successful writer of a children's book, has had his life fall apart after the disappearance of his three-year-old daughter. His wife has left him and he faces the daily self-examination of what is left of his life as he goes through the stages of grief. 'More than two years on and still stuck, still trapped in the dark, enfolded with his loss, shaped by it, lost to the ordinary currents of feeling that moved far above him and belonged exclusively to other people.'

Just who is '
...more
Lauren
Apr 14, 2007 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Szplug
Nov 16, 2009 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
...more
Luís C.
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.
Shane
May 01, 2010 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
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
Chiamartini95
Jun 12, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Terzo libro che leggo di questo autore e, anche questa volta, sono stata catturata dalla sua bravura.
Questa è una storia di dolore, perdita e lutto resa ancora più tragica dal fatto che non parliamo di morte vera e propria ma di scomparsa. Stephan infatti è un famoso autore di libri per bambini quando, in una normale giornata passata al supermercato, perde la figlia Kate.
Rapita? Uccisa? Abusata? O semplicemente persa? Queste sono le idee che sorgono nella mente di Stephen e che lo tormenterann
...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
Barbara
Jun 26, 2009 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
...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
Tony
Apr 13, 2015 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
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
...more
Gattalucy
Aug 27, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
nel dolore, quello vero, si rimane soli
Mi ha preso meno di Sabato, forse per un ritmo più lento e uno stile meno logorroico, ma mi ha confermato nell'idea che McEwan sia bravissimo nelle descrizioni minuziose di eventi della durata di pochi minuti, che lui sa far ricche di tante osservazione cavillose ma realistiche. Ma bravo anche nel descivere con poche parole un evento, una situazione, un'emozione. Quella partenza poi, con la scoparsa della piccola Kate fin dal principio, che porta l'attenzio
...more
Rob
Jan 25, 2011 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.
Celeste - Una stanza tutta per me
[...]mentre avanzava con tanta furia restava fermo, seguitando a schiantarsi intorno allo stesso punto.
E da questo pensiero scaturì una tristezza che non era soltanto sua. Era vecchia di secoli, di millenni. Scuoteva lui e innumerevoli altri, come un vento che passi tra l'erba.
Non c'era nulla di suo, non un solo gesto, un movimento, il suono di una voce, neppure quella tristezza, niente che appartenesse a qualcuno.


Stephen Lewis è diventato quasi per caso uno scrittore di romanzi per bambini,
...more
Renée Paule
Mar 09, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Excellent book for those who like to read between the lines ... and for those who don't for that matter.
Erica-Lynn
Mar 10, 2010 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Ethan
Mar 12, 2012 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
...more
Bianca
Oct 06, 2015 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
Lori Bamber
Jul 27, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Jan 23, 2016 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.
Lewis Weinstein
Sep 17, 2009 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
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.
Jo
Jul 10, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This was pulled from a shelf of left-behind paperbacks at the holiday cottage we stayed in. I was intrigued by the blurb. Having your child disappear and never knowing what happened must be the top of every parents nightmare scenarios - and how do you go on?

This is an incredible book, deserves the five stars and the prize it won undoubtedly. Did I enjoy it? No. The subject matter is just so painful that even a uplifting ending didn't make it enjoyable.
Bettie☯
Jan 22, 2009 marked it as to-read  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: BBC TV Watchers
The book didn't look enticing enough, however, BBC1 is making a series with Benedict Cumberbatch
Cai
His endings always destroy me.
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
Ian
Feb 08, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 1001-books
I do love the way McEwan writes: his descriptions of emotions and moments are constructed under a forensic glare, exposing every detail. I love too the way he constructs a novel, with the opening providing the critical moment and the rest a slow reveal; like a flower with the initial instant of the bud bursting and then the ongoing richness of the petals gradually exposing the centre. What sometimes annoys me about his characters is their tendancy to introspection, how they seem to live in an em ...more
Mădă Kruppa
Oct 22, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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.
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Confusion (please help!) - SPOILERS 3 19 Jun 06, 2017 03:36PM  
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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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“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?” 26 likes
“Only when you are grown up, perhaps only when you have children yourself, do you fully understand that your own parents had a full and intricate existence before you were born.” 4 likes
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