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Saturday Unknown Binding – January 1, 2005

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Product Details

  • Unknown Binding
  • Publisher: Doubleday; First Edition. 1 in number line edition (2005)
  • ASIN: B002NHIX02
  • Average Customer Review: 3.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (375 customer reviews)

More About the Author

Ian McEwan is a critically acclaimed author of short stories and novels for adults, as well as The Daydreamer, a children's novel illustrated by Anthony Browne. His first published work, a collection of short stories, First Love, Last Rites, won the Somerset Maugham Award. His other award-winning novels are The Child in Time, which won the 1987 Whitbread Novel of the Year Award, and Amsterdam, which won the 1998 Booker Prize.

Customer Reviews

I have read all of Mr. McEwan's novels, and this is one of his finest.
I tried very hard to like this book, but the self-absorbed stream of conscious of the narrator repeatedly gets in the way of moving the plot along.
Vaughn A. Carney
I was interested to read this book, however I could not make it through the first 100 pages.

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

254 of 291 people found the following review helpful By Mary Whipple HALL OF FAMETOP 500 REVIEWER on March 22, 2005
Format: Hardcover
In the middle of the night, Henry Perowne, a 48-year-old neurosurgeon, awakens for no apparent reason and sees what he thinks, at first, is a meteor, but the object brightens, moves faster, and blazes through the skies at low altitude--a plane on fire, approaching Heathrow. In intensely realized descriptions, Henry thinks about this dramatic event and reacts and shares the most intimate aspects of his existence, drawing the reader into his life. Every action, thought, and question about life, fate, and destiny is articulated as Henry struggles to make sense of this one day in his life and see it in a philosophical context.

Happily married to Rosalind, a lawyer for a newspaper, Henry has two remarkably creative children--one a blues musician and the other a poet. Through their lives, he recognizes that his own preoccupation with science and reality has left him incomplete. He has come to believe that "there [is] more to life than merely saving lives," and he yearns to find a complete, "coherent world, everything fitting at last."

As the day progresses, Henry fixates on the plane accident, possible terrorism, the imminent war with Iraq, and a traffic accident resulting in an altercation with a thug. But throughout this "action," Henry is contemplating his relationships with the world at large, trying to understand his place within it. Having rejected organized religion, he finds some comfort in the conclusions of Darwin, who connects all life in a continuum in which he sees himself a part.

As he thinks of his own parents and children, he also observes contrasts in the world around him, people whose lives are different, not because of any inherent difference but simply because of chance--"the currents that alter fates.
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128 of 146 people found the following review helpful By Ian Forth on February 26, 2006
Format: Hardcover
You'll have no problem reading Saturday. There's nothing difficult about it. Indeed, as usual with McEwan, you won't be able to remember one phrase, or even word, a week after reading it. Surely the best novelist in England should be leaving something memorable behind him?

And then there are the characters. It's not surprising all those politicians thought Saturday was the book of the year. The protagonist is living the life they all hanker after. He's living the life of McEwan himself, basically, with the exception of the brain surgery bits which have been clumsily grafted on to mask the autobiographical element, and also to invite eulogies pivoting around the surgeon's incision / the novelist's incision.

Now those characters. Lead: most gifted brain surgeon of his generation. Daughter: most gifted poet of her generation. Son: most gifted musician of his generation. Father-in-law: most gifted poet of his generation. Mother: most gifted swimmer in her county. Wife: a top lawyer (incredibly not the most gifted lawyer of her generation, as far as we know anyway). Does this sound like any family you know? Me neither. I appreciate he's drawing a picture of privilege, but he's also inviting us to admire and like these people, and they're all so horridly smug it's unbearable. I actually felt delighted when the edifice was shattered, and disappointed that calm was restored so effortlessly - can that be the desired effect?

And the details.
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127 of 150 people found the following review helpful By Luan Gaines HALL OF FAMETOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on March 22, 2005
Format: Hardcover
This day in the life of a moral, conscientious man serves as a metaphor for the quality of a man's life, how unexpected violence may disrupt and injure, but not destroy. London neurosurgeon Henry Perowne sets out on his Saturday with a full schedule and a brimming mind, much of his internal musing triggered by the events of 9/11, the incipient war with Iraq and a massive anti-war demonstration taking place that day to protest Bush's potential attack on Iraq: "Saturday's he's accustomed to being thoughtlessly content..."

Perowne carries on an inner dialog made more complex by current events, though always engaged in thoughts of his patients and family, perhaps recently with a sharper edge, a poignancy, a nod to the random destruction that has become part of the new world landscape. A minor accident triggers a chain of events, so unexpected that Perowne is blindsided by his own lack of foresight. This one day becomes a metaphor for what has so recently stunned the world and left it shaken. Like a country attacked on a bright New York day, Perowne, and by extension his family, are briefly assaulted, then left to deal with the repercussions of violence.

The well-trained, educated brain screams danger, but the acculturated man is still in shock, unable to adapt to quickly changing circumstances: "Questions of misinterpretations are not often resolved." Facing imminent danger to himself and to his family, Perowne cannot make his precise mind plan, his mental calculations serving instead as stumbling blocks for extricating the family from a volatile situation.

I find it fascinating that the author's protagonist is a neurosurgeon, for McEwan writes with the precision of a surgeon, his novel as brilliantly structured as Perowne's mind.
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