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53 of 56 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An engrossing, beautifully written book
Many have praised the opening of this novel, and rightfully so, but that is only the first step in Ian McEwan's masterful creation. Told from the perspective of Joe Rose, a frustrated scientist turned journalist, the story captures our attention and never lets go. We share Joe's despair as the balloon rocks in the wind in the opening scene; we shiver as he finds...
Published on January 14, 2000 by Marion D.

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11 of 12 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Hot Air or Helium? The McEwan Balloon
"Enduring Love" opens with a chapter so crafty (and complete as a story), that the rest of the novel must inevitably disappoint, following a kind of thermodynamic law of literature. Chapters two through twenty four (plus appendices) comprise a very long epilogue, reversing McEwan's usual trick of making the first two-thirds of a book a prologue of red herrings,...
Published on March 11, 1999


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53 of 56 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An engrossing, beautifully written book, January 14, 2000
By 
Marion D. (Providence, RI) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Enduring Love: A Novel (Paperback)
Many have praised the opening of this novel, and rightfully so, but that is only the first step in Ian McEwan's masterful creation. Told from the perspective of Joe Rose, a frustrated scientist turned journalist, the story captures our attention and never lets go. We share Joe's despair as the balloon rocks in the wind in the opening scene; we shiver as he finds himself being stalked by a delusional, obsessive intruder who thinks Joe is the love of his life. But Joe doesn't seem to trust himself entirely, and McEwan gives us plenty of reasons to distrust him even more, creating a tension in the narrative that makes us read on with a growing sense of impending calamity. In-between, McEwan explores the dichotomy of science and religion, logic and intuition, sanity and delusion. The writing is beautiful, as sharp and witty as we've come to expect of McEwan, but far more intricate and thoughtful. All that and a page-turner? It's a near-perfect read.
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29 of 29 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars An Enduring Impression, August 22, 2000
This review is from: Enduring Love: A Novel (Paperback)
What strikes me about this book is the lasting impression it's left on me. I read it last summer and still find myself thinking about it and talking about it a year later. I recently finished another book and my wife asked me to compare it to any two others as a point of reference. Better than one book we'd both read, I said, but not as good as Enduring Love. For contemporary fiction, this one sticks with you.
McEwan does a fine job in painting the lead character Joe Rose, as well as the secondary players. His use of language is clear and simple, yet never elementary. The opening chapter is as powerfully imagined as any other I've read. The reader is literally hanging by a rope at the suspense of the scene. And it sets the tone for the psychological terror to come.
More than a summer read, Enduring Love explores corners of our psyches and personalities that we don't often come face to face with. Suspense, terror, humor, and the very real idea of love and romance are alive in this book, which I reccommend as enjoyable to readers of any of these genres.
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44 of 48 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Hitchcock would love this book, April 23, 2000
By 
Ian Muldoon (Coffs Harbour, NSW Australia) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Enduring Love: A Novel (Paperback)
A very well crafted tale of horror, suspense, and an understanding of the psychological minutia of relationships which I read in one sitting. If you, dear reader, are interested in psychiatry, the place of scientists and science in the modern world, scientific fashion, obsessive behaviour, religious faith, love, jealousy, murder, moral choices, guilt, and fear then this is the book for you. It's also funny eg, '" I'll tell you in four words and nothing more. Someone wants to kill me." In the silence everyone, including me, totted up the words.'(p216) But if there is a common theme binding all these elements together, it's that no matter how well educated or intelligent you are there is no escaping the strait-jacket of your feelings, and its these feelings, of cowardice, of guilt, of fear, of the protaganist, Joe Rose, which propel the story forward in true Hitchcockian manner. The effects of love going sour, the hilarity of buying a gun from ex-hippies, the strangeness of an ordinary day turning weird are some of the many highlights of this book.
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20 of 21 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars No Good Deed Goes Unpunished, August 29, 2005
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This review is from: Enduring Love: A Novel (Paperback)
The Ian McEwan novel Enduring Love opens with a picnic. Joe Rose and his girlfriend/common-law wife Clarissa are enjoying each other's company after a week's separation when they hear a call for help. Joe, along with several other men, wind up trying to control an errant hot-air balloon, an effort that will not only fail but will kill one of them in the process. In the shock following the death, Joe sympathetically glances at one of the other men, beginning a strange nightmare that will plague both his and Clarissa's life.

It turns out that this other man, Jed, is deeply disturbed, and from that one exchanged look, he falls in love with Joe. Beyond that, he is certain that Joe loves him, and that Joe's every gesture is some sort of secret communication of affection. This leads to a "Fatal Attraction"-like obsession which is a little less violent but maybe even more disturbing.

What separates this from just being another Fatal Attraction rip-off is Joe, who has problems of his own. Utterly rational - to the point of irrationality - Joe's attempts to clinically deal with his problems actually exacerbate them. His absolute certainty in the correctness of his actions lead to paranoia and alienation; instead of getting assistance with Jed, he winds up looking crazy himself...and due to the first-person narrative, the reader may start assuming Joe is insane as well.

Although Ian McEwan may not be known as a suspense writer, Enduring Love shows that he is good at writing such tales. But this is not merely a thriller; it's also a tale of obsession and guilt and how the two can intertwine. This is a book well worth reading.
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12 of 12 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A Good Ride, Until the Tailspin, January 15, 2000
By A Customer
This review is from: Enduring Love: A Novel (Paperback)
Though "Enduring Love" is only two-thirds of an excellent novel, the book as a whole has a lot to recommend it: an abundance of vivid character detail and insights, wonderful language, and McEwan's scary ability to walk a grueling mile in very strange shoes indeed. (Readers of "The Child In Time" and "The Innocent" will find themselves half-convinced that McEwan himself once lost a child in an unexplained kidnapping, or that he personally spent some sweaty hours dismembering a corpse with a hack-saw). Sadly, after a bravura beginning, he loses control, starting with the shooting in the restaurant. This scene is preposterous: how could an unworldly shut-in like Jed Parry so quickly find a pair of professional killers willing to commit a brazen public murder, and why bother anyway, since he has Joe's address? After that, McEwan cannot pick up the threads again; his narrative, while still beautifully written, becomes a string of absurdities, from a farcical scene with hippy gun-dealers to a melodramatic climax. What the hell threw him? The answer may be that McEwan was trying to amuse himself at the expense of his own story. Many people know that the first chapter of the book--the balloon accident--ran in the New Yorker, word for word, months before the novel appeared. At that time, there was no suggestion that it was anything other than a short story, and in fact it stood very well on its own. But McEwan was having fun, jogging the readers' memories, gloating a little over his achievement: several years before this, the New Yorker had published its first Ian McEwan story. It was about a murder in a crowded restaurant, and its heroes were Joe and Clarissa. Maybe as a challenge to himself, McEwan re-worked this story into his novel--with a shoe-horn, apparently. He made few changes, but the original details (such as the setting, a near-future London fraught with Algerian-style, Fundamentalist violence; and Clarissa's physique, which is described as that of a midget), though strange, made perfect sense in context. McEwan thought he could make this elegant trifle richer and more resonant by throwing it into the pot that became "Enduring Love". Unfortunately he failed to incorporate it convincingly, and the icy logic of his fine novel was totally derailed.
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12 of 13 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A Narrative of Science, Religion and Obsession, April 18, 2002
By 
This review is from: Enduring Love: A Novel (Paperback)
I first read Ian McEwan in 1976. I had just arrived in Ireland for a year of study and picked up an inexpensive Picador paperback edition of his first collection of stories, "First Love, Last Rites." I still have that paperback, its pages dog-eared and fragile, and I re-read it from time-to-time. After that first encounter, I became a McEwan "fan," enraptured by his dark, edgy, disturbing, psychologically obsessive narratives.
"Enduring Love", published more than twenty years after that first collection of stories, is different from his earliest writing in the sense that its narrative turns around a more conventional, albeit still psychologically driven and bizarre, set of circumstances.
As many reviewers have commented, the first chapter of "Enduring Love" is a compelling page-turner. Joe and Clarissa, long-time lovers, are setting up a picnic under a tree on the edge of a wide expanse of field. Clarissa, a Keats scholar, has just returned from an extended research trip to Rome and the picnic is an occasion for them to celebrate their reunion. In Joe's first person narrative: "The beginning is simple to mark. We were in sunlight under a turkey oak, partly protected from a strong, gusty wind. I was kneeling on the grass with a corkscrew in my hand, and Clarissa was passing me the bottle-a 1987 Daumas Gassac. This was the moment, this was the pinprick on the time map: I was stretching out my hand, and as the cool neck and the black foil touched my palm, we heard a man's shout. We turned and looked across the field and saw the danger."
And what was the danger? Joe and Clarissa see a hot air balloon pulling away from the ground, a young boy in the basket of the balloon while an older man, his companion, struggles desperately to hold onto the balloon, to keep it tethered to the ground in the face of gusty winds.
Soon, Joe is running across the field to help, along with three other men. It is a moment in time, "the pinprick on the time map," that Joe explores obsessively, examining it, turning it, over and over, trying to understand how such an instant can change an entire life.
Joe and the three other men soon catch up to the balloon, the four of them, together with the boy's older companion, struggling to hold the balloon down, to keep it from blowing off with the young boy as scared passenger. It becomes apparent, however, that their efforts are failing, the balloon starting to rise higher, the four men holding on, each of them facing grave physical danger and a powerful moral dilemma. Each must decide whether to continue to hold on, running the risk that if the others do not then he will face near certain death from falling. As Joe later relates, looking back on that moment, "I didn't know, nor have I ever discovered, who let go first. I am not prepared to accept that it was me. What is certain is that if we had not broken ranks, our collective weight would have brought the balloon to earth a few seconds later as the gust subsided."
Thus begins "Enduring Love", the first chapter seemingly narrating an event and a moral conundrum that immediately captures the reader, leading him to believe that the rest of the novel will explore how this event affects the lives of Joe and Clarissa and the rest of the book's characters. However, in typical McEwan fashion, the plot takes a much different turn. What begins as a tragic event that elicits moral ponderings veers into a narrative of science, religion and psychological obsession.
Joe Rose encounters one of the other would-be rescuers, Jed Parry, while standing in the field after their ill-starred rescue attempt. Parry, an apparently religious fanatic, sees deep meaning in his time-bound encounter with Joe. He becomes obsessed with Joe, stalking him and, eventually, threatening Joe's relationship with Clarissa and Joe's very well-being. Parry suffers from de Clerambault's syndrome, a type of homo-erotic obsession with religious overtones. As the scientific appendix to the novel notes, "this is indeed a most lasting form of love, often terminated only by the death of the patient."
"Enduring Love" thus begins by posing a moral dilemma, but soon evolves into a compelling novel of deviant psychological obsession, of conflict between religion and science, and of a deep, introspective examination of how a loving relationship can soon unravel in the face of threats from the outside. It is a thought-provoking novel, albeit one which at times seems somewhat lacking in feeling, the reader (at least this reader) having difficulty identifying with the often clinical coldness of Joe's first person narration. While the tone of Joe's narration may be intentional, McEwan intending to write in a voice that reflects the unfeeling tone of Joe's deep-seated scientific rationalism, the narrative never quite rings true to life. "Enduring Love" is, nonetheless, a fascinating and worthwhile novel that gives the reader much to ponder.
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A thought-provoking page-turner, June 21, 2000
This review is from: Enduring Love: A Novel (Paperback)
How do science and religion compete for the minds of humans? How do we cope when someone we love acts contrary to our passionately held beliefs? When does love turn to obsession? What are our moral responsibilities towards other human beings, especially those in danger or those who are suffering?
These are complicated questions without simple answers. If you would like to read a thoughtful, intelligent meditation on these and other important issues, then this is the book for you. It is frightfully well written and flows with the simple grace of great literature. As one event follows another with inexorable power, you will identify completely with the characters in this book and the problems that beset them. It will definitely help you to understand your fellow human beings, especially those in distress, much better.
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11 of 12 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Hot Air or Helium? The McEwan Balloon, March 11, 1999
By A Customer
This review is from: Enduring Love: A Novel (Paperback)
"Enduring Love" opens with a chapter so crafty (and complete as a story), that the rest of the novel must inevitably disappoint, following a kind of thermodynamic law of literature. Chapters two through twenty four (plus appendices) comprise a very long epilogue, reversing McEwan's usual trick of making the first two-thirds of a book a prologue of red herrings, whopping you with a left-field climax irrelevant to the buildup. And the trick usually works.
Joe Rose is a scientific journalist (orating with the suspect eloquence of a novelist with a stack of scientific journals on his writing desk) who, after stumbling onto ground zero of a ballooning tragedy, finds himself the victim of a stalker in subsequent chapters. After the revelatory effulgence of chapter one, chapter two, of rather less candle power, at least boasts the kind of grisly set piece that McEwan glories in: a corpse, in this case driven into the earth, feet-first, like a fence post: "The skeletal structure had collapsed internally to produce a head on a thickened stick." If you are a person of independent means, the book is worth buying for that sentence alone.
If you are not, however, luckily lounging about on a cushion of unearned money, and must count your pennies instead, I'm afraid the book isn't worth it. Weak for resting the weight of its argument on a series of unlikely, yet pivotal (and television-grade) misunderstandings, the novel is further debilitated by evidence of a worrying trend, the post post-modern tic (shared famously by Martin Amis of late) of larding fiction with indigestible bits of "hard science", dithering on for long-winded and unilluminating passages that fall short of epiphany, yet manage to invoke the pimply faux authority of a school paper. If one wants to be filled with wonder for hard facts, rather than for brilliant fiction, one should better purchase a book by a scientist playing at being a writer, rather than the obverse, which is bound to be far less sincere. The book itself, like the punning gerund of its title, is not quite meaningfully clever.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Enduring Fixation, May 26, 2002
By 
This review is from: Enduring Love: A Novel (Paperback)
This story of madness and fixation will keep you awake nights - and not just because it's hard to put down.
Freelance writer Joe Rose and his wife Clarissa are in the wrong place at the wrong time. While enjoying a romantic picnic in the English countryside, they witness a tragic accident, a ballooning trip that goes horribly wrong. Joe and other passersby rush to the rescue, but the men bungle the operation and one of them, John Logan, dies as a result.
This would already be a lot of action in most books but in Ian McEwan's dark and surprising world it's just the starting point. One of the other rescuers, an intensely religious young man named Jed Parry, has in an instant become obsessed with Joe. At first it seems unwelcome but harmless, and no one takes it too seriously. Not the police, and not Clarissa. Parry follows Joe around, waits outside his house, writes him lengthy love letters: the situation becomes more and more disruptive of Joe's everyday life, yet Clarissa reacts unsympathetically, seeming to feel that Joe has blown the inconvenience out of proportion. Joe contacts the police again, but the Inspectors find nothing threatening in someone obsessively promising to love you. Eventually, however, the latent atheism in Joe's published writings seems to push Parry over the brink - and what happens after that brings to mind the well-worn phrase "I love you to death".
McEwan has written a book that is superb on several levels. One of its central themes has to do with the standard for determining when one person's behavior is threatening to another. Joe's life is being disrupted, he feels dread every time he looks out the window or checks his mail: Parry's unwelcome actions are clearly causing him anxiety. Yet though he seeks help from the proper authorities, he receives none and so must ultimately take matters into his own hands.
Most disquieting of all, though, is the story's plausibility. Just as consumers can be tricked into buying a defective product by its pretty packaging, the mere façade of sanity is easily bought into. All too often dangerous individuals are left loose in society by those too apathetic to stop them. Jed Parry, a slight young man who speaks of love and conversion... Who'd have believed he could be so dangerous? Subtle psychopaths abound in our society, walk among us every day undetected, and that's precisely what makes them so dangerous. The obviously deranged are more easily guarded against; it's the quietly psychotic we need to worry about. This is a book about which one can truly say "It could happen to you."
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A Narrative of Science, Religion and Psychological Obsession, July 24, 2001
By A Customer
This review is from: Enduring Love: A Novel (Paperback)
I first read Ian McEwan in 1976. I had just arrived in Ireland for a year of study and picked up an inexpensive Picador paperback edition of his first collection of stories, "First Love, Last Rites." I still have that paperback, its pages dog-eared and fragile, and I re-read it from time-to-time. After that first encounter, I became a McEwan "fan," enraptured by his dark, edgy, disturbing, psychologically obsessive narratives.
"Enduring Love", published more than twenty years after that first collection of stories, is different from his earliest writing in the sense that its narrative turns around a more conventional, albeit still psychologically driven and bizarre, set of circumstances.
As many reviewers have commented, the first chapter of "Enduring Love" is a compelling page-turner. Joe and Clarissa, long-time lovers, are setting up a picnic under a tree on the edge of a wide expanse of field. Clarissa, a Keats scholar, has just returned from an extended research trip to Rome and the picnic is an occasion for them to celebrate their reunion. In Joe's first person narrative: "The beginning is simple to mark. We were in sunlight under a turkey oak, partly protected from a strong, gusty wind. I was kneeling on the grass with a corkscrew in my hand, and Clarissa was passing me the bottle-a 1987 Daumas Gassac. This was the moment, this was the pinprick on the time map: I was stretching out my hand, and as the cool neck and the black foil touched my palm, we heard a man's shout. We turned and looked across the field and saw the danger."
And what was the danger? Joe and Clarissa see a hot air balloon pulling away from the ground, a young boy in the basket of the balloon while an older man, his companion, struggles desperately to hold onto the balloon, to keep it tethered to the ground in the face of gusty winds.
Soon, Joe is running across the field to help, along with three other men. It is a moment in time, "the pinprick on the time map," that Joe explores obsessively, examining it, turning it, over and over, trying to understand how such an instant can change an entire life.
Joe and the three other men soon catch up to the balloon, the four of them, together with the boy's older companion, struggling to hold the balloon down, to keep it from blowing off with the young boy as scared passenger. It becomes apparent, however, that their efforts are failing, the balloon starting to rise higher, the four men holding on, each of them facing grave physical danger and a powerful moral dilemma. Each must decide whether to continue to hold on, running the risk that if the others do not then he will face near certain death from falling. As Joe later relates, looking back on that moment, "I didn't know, nor have I ever discovered, who let go first. I am not prepared to accept that it was me. What is certain is that if we had not broken ranks, our collective weight would have brought the balloon to earth a few seconds later as the gust subsided."
Thus begins "Enduring Love", the first chapter seemingly narrating an event and a moral conundrum that immediately captures the reader, leading him to believe that the rest of the novel will explore how this event affects the lives of Joe and Clarissa and the rest of the book's characters. However, in typical McEwan fashion, the plot takes a much different turn. What begins as a tragic event that elicits moral ponderings veers into a narrative of science, religion and psychological obsession.
Joe Rose encounters one of the other would-be rescuers, Jed Parry, while standing in the field after their ill-starred rescue attempt. Parry, an apparently religious fanatic, sees deep meaning in his time-bound encounter with Joe. He becomes obsessed with Joe, stalking him and, eventually, threatening Joe's relationship with Clarissa and Joe's very well-being. Parry suffers from de Clerambault's syndrome, a type of homo-erotic obsession with religious overtones. As the scientific appendix to the novel notes, "this is indeed a most lasting form of love, often terminated only by the death of the patient."
"Enduring Love" thus begins by posing a moral dilemma, but soon evolves into a compelling novel of deviant psychological obsession, of conflict between religion and science, and of a deep, introspective examination of how a loving relationship can soon unravel in the face of threats from the outside. It is a thought-provoking novel, albeit one which at times seems somewhat lacking in feeling, the reader (at least this reader) having difficulty identifying with the often clinical coldness of Joe's first person narration. While the tone of Joe's narration may be intentional, McEwan intending to write in a voice that reflects the unfeeling tone of Joe's deep-seated scientific rationalism, the narrative never quite rings true to life. "Enduring Love" is, nonetheless, a fascinating and worthwhile novel that gives the reader much to ponder.
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Enduring Love
Enduring Love by Ian McEwan (Hardcover - January 20, 1998)
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