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Enduring Love: A Novel Paperback – December 29, 1998
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Joe Rose has planned a postcard-perfect afternoon in the English countryside to celebrate his lover's return after six weeks in the States. To complete the picture, there's even a "helium balloon drifting dreamily across the wooded valley." But as Joe and Clarissa watch the balloon touch down, their idyll comes to an abrupt end. The pilot catches his leg in the anchor rope, while the only passenger, a boy, is too scared to jump down. As the wind whips into action, Joe and four other men rush to secure the basket. Mother Nature, however, isn't feeling very maternal. "A mighty fist socked the balloon in two rapid blows, one-two, the second more vicious than the first," and at once the rescuers are airborne. Joe manages to drop to the ground, as do most of his companions, but one man is lifted sky-high, only to fall to his death.
In itself, the accident would change the survivors' lives, filling them with an uneasy combination of shame, happiness, and endless self-reproach. (In one of the novel's many ironies, the balloon eventually lands safely, the boy unscathed.) But fate has far more unpleasant things in store for Joe. Meeting the eye of fellow rescuer Jed Parry, for example, turns out to be a very bad move. For Jed is instantly obsessed, making the first of many calls to Joe and Clarissa's London flat that very night. Soon he's openly shadowing Joe and writing him endless letters. (One insane epistle begins, "I feel happiness running through me like an electrical current. I close my eyes and see you as you were last night in the rain, across the road from me, with the unspoken love between us as strong as steel cable.") Worst of all, Jed's version of love comes to seem a distortion of Joe's feelings for Clarissa.
Apart from the incessant stalking, it is the conditionals--the contingencies--that most frustrate Joe, a scientific journalist. If only he and Clarissa had gone straight home from the airport... If only the wind hadn't picked up... If only he had saved Jed's 29 messages in a single day... Ian McEwan has long been a poet of the arbitrary nightmare, his characters ineluctably swept up in others' fantasies, skidding into deepening violence, and--worst of all--becoming strangers to those who love them. Even his prose itself is a masterful and methodical exercise in defamiliarization. But Enduring Love and its underrated predecessor, Black Dogs, are also meditations on knowledge and perception as well as brilliant manipulations of our own expectations. By the novel's end, you will be surprisingly unafraid of hot-air balloons, but you won't be too keen on looking a stranger in the eye. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
From Library Journal
Maxwell Caulfield gives a chilly narration of McEwan's novel about a tragic incident that opens the door to an encounter between a stalker and his victim. Joe Rose and his wife, Clarissa, enjoying a picnic, are interrupted when a hot-air balloon escapes from its moorings with a child on board. McEwan's engrossing account of the event describes in minute detail the moment the balloon takes flight to the death of one of the would-be rescuers. It is during this time that Jed approaches Joe and begins a series of harassing phone calls, letters, and personal confrontations. The first-person narrative by Joe is effective in following the disturbed young man as he drives a wedge between the couple. Caulfield's reading brings out the highly emotional character of the pursuer and the frustration of his quarry. Recommended for fiction collections.?Catherine Swenson, Norwich Univ. Lib., Northfield, VT
Copyright 1998 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
Top customer reviews
Like all McEwan books is very well wrote and a have a intriguing premise.
The problem is the rest of the book; the relation between the main character and his wife is supposed to be a loving and close one,but fall apart so fast and without really reasons that make sense.
The story like I said is very well wrote and somehow profoundly try to explored the nature of love between human beings and how fragile is it.
1. Before reading this, I think it would be valuable to read: SaturdaySaturday, AtonementAtonement: A Novel, and Black DogsBlack Dogs: A Novel by McEwan
2. McEwan's later works seem to brighly inform Enduring Love; I could not put this down, but I don't know if that would have been the case if I hadn't already read most of his other, later fiction. Black Dogs, especially, relates to the psychological morass the protagonist exhibits.
3. I reflected on McEwan's influence from Kafka (The TrialThe Trial, The MetamorphosisThe Metamorphosis, as well as from Fowles (The CollectorThe Collector (Back Bay Books)) and Nabokov (LolitaLolita).
McEwan's twists and turns at the beginning of the book are clever and suspenseful; however, rather than focus on that already well-discussed opening, I think it's worthwhile to reflect on McEwan's continued push/pull of the religious/scientific continuum.
I won't divulge any more specifics than that, other than to say that McEwan is clearly a genius. His gift is in excavating the messy architecture of the human heart and exposing how very fleeting and tenuous some relationships are, while showing how firms the bonds of other relationships can be. The characters are realistically drawn and their interactions with each other true-to-life. There are a couple of twists, but they're believable--and they add to the general sense of loss and emotional horror and enforced loneliness this novel palpably sketches.
Most recent customer reviews
I earmarked the first page of Chapter Two upon encountering this unique simile author...Read more