Of Ian McEwan’s works, Saturday is my very favorite. I don’t find the lead character terribly sympathetic, but the writing is gorgeous. one of the best in the life-in-a-day kinds of novels.
The novel takes place over the course of a day in February 2003. On this particular Saturday, riots in downtown London occurred, protesting British involvement in the United States’ military invasion of the Middle East. Henry Perowne, an affluent neurosurgeon, is the protagonist of the story. He wants nothing more than to play his squash game, visit his mother, and prepare his legendary fish stew for the big family gathering that evening. But life, as we all know, has other plans. A plane streaking through the evening sky seems to be on fire and reminds him of the planes that hit the Twin Towers on 9/11. The sort of violence that terrorism incurs is further perpetuated in a traffic sideswipe that escalates later in the afternoon when Henry butts heads with Baxter, a petty criminal.
Our actions can sometimes have grave repercussions, as Henry finds out. This novel is about terror, violence, grief, loss, and the sort of privilege that can blind us to the hardships and unfortunate circumstances of others. Most everyone who’s read McEwan cites Atonement as their favorite, but this one is mine. The ties to Mrs. Dalloway are intriguing, and make it an eloquent and moving read.
You can also read this review on my personal blog, The Universe Disturbed.