The Children Act

  • by Ian McEwan
  • Narrated by Lindsay Duncan
  • 6 hrs and 15 mins
  • Unabridged Audiobook

Publisher's Summary

Fiona Maye is a leading High Court judge, presiding over cases in the family court. She is renowned for her fierce intelligence, exactitude and sensitivity. But her professional success belies private sorrow and domestic strife. There is the lingering regret of her childlessness, and now her marriage of 30 years is in crisis. At the same time, she is called on to try an urgent case: for religious reasons, a beautiful 17-year-old boy, Adam, is refusing the medical treatment that could save his life, and his devout parents share his wishes. Time is running out. Should the secular court overrule sincerely held faith? In the course of reaching a decision Fiona visits Adam in hospital - an encounter which stirs long-buried feelings in her and powerful new emotions in the boy. Her judgment has momentous consequences for them both.


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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful

Who is the ultimate judge?

This is a fascinating and realistic story following the life of Fiona, an experienced and mature female judge as she works her way through the moral maze of the family courts. Many of the situations cited are based on real life cases that most people will know and recognise and the legal arguments used to conclude them are compelling reading. Besides dealing with the mind boggling complexity of her daily work, Fiona also has to cope with the news that her husband plans to leave her for a younger woman and her understandable hurt and rage at his betrayal.
As with many of the situations described, the main case is made difficult by the strongly held religious beliefs of the litigants and every reader will have a strong view as to how they see the case should be decided. There is tension in this story but this is not a typical courtroom thriller and is all the better for this.
I admit I did consider the work of the family court as being so much easier that the criminal court (nobody goes to prison after all). This novel convinced me that my view was ill-founded and left me with respect for the legal profession who are somehow supposed to sort out the mess we make of our lives while at the same time remaining fallible to their own personal troubles.
Lindsay Duncan has to be one of the top narrators in her profession and this was a beautiful performance completely appropriate for the subject matter. I was moved by this story as I always am by Ian McEwan.
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- Kaggy


If you could sum up The Children Act in three words, what would they be?

Fascinating, thought provoking.

What other book might you compare The Children Act to, and why?

Apple Tree Yard, only because it deals with a professional woman, who outwardly has her life under tight control.

Have you listened to any of Lindsay Duncan’s other performances? How does this one compare?

Lindsay Duncan is perfect although when portraying a 17 year old she is a touch patronising.

If you made a film of this book, what would be the tag line be?

Who judges the judges?

Any additional comments?

McEwan always educates with his books and this is another example of exceptional writing along with scrupulous research. I think Ian McEwan must be a kind and thoughtful man.

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- M. Clark

Book Details

  • Release Date: 02-09-2014
  • Publisher: Random House Audiobooks