Saturday, February 15, 2003. Henry Perowne is a contented man - a successful neurosurgeon, the devoted husband of Rosalind and proud father of two grown-up children. Unusually, he wakes before dawn, drawn to the window of his bedroom and filled with a growing unease.
What troubles him as he looks out at the night sky is the state of the world - the impending war against Iraq, a gathering pessimism since 9/11, and a fear that his city and his happy family life are under threat.
Later, Perowne makes his way to his weekly squash game through London streets filled with hundreds of thousands of anti-war protestors. A minor car accident brings him into a confrontation with Baxter, a fidgety, aggressive, young man, on the edge of violence. To Perowne's professional eye, there appears to be something profoundly wrong with him.
Towards the end of a day rich in incident and filled with Perowne's celebrations of life's pleasures, his family gathers for a reunion. But with the sudden appearance of Baxter, Perowne's earlier fears seem about to be realised.
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Rather than slate this book and it's story, let me tell you where I am with it, and you can make your own mind up.
So I am four hours into the book. The story is set in London, depicting a Saturday as experienced by a successful neurosurgeon, Henry. So far, in four hours, Henry has woken up from his bed in a weird dream like state, good downstairs for a drink of milk and had a chat with his teenage son, who also can't sleep. He was also staring out the window when he saw an aeroplane on fire heading for the runway. He wasn't seen anything on the news as yet.
He's made love to his wife. He is excited about his daughter coming to visit from Paris where she now lives. She likes literature and forces him to read more.
He left the house to go to work where he has just crashed his BMW into another motorist who was driving a BMW series 5...
...and thats it. I've decided not to listen to any more because the fact I am four hours into this book and so little has happened is enough for me to give up.
So there you have it. Love or hate this review; I have given you the facts. Ian Mckewan spent two years shadowing Mr kitchen, a brain surgeon (who operated on my mother in law's tumour) in London in order for him to be able to write this book. It was because of this that I wanted to give it a go.
Decide for yourself what you wish to do!
Flawless narration by James Wilby
- John Imeson