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Lessons by Ian McEwan


Lessons by Ian McEwan
UK Publication: September 2022
Reviewed by: Book Worm
Rating: [★★★]

This ARC was provided by Random House UK (via NetGalley) in exchange for an honest review.

Synopsis from Goodreads: When the world is still counting the cost of the Second World War and the Iron Curtain has closed, eleven-year-old Roland Baines’s life is turned upside down. Two thousand miles from his mother’s protective love, stranded at an unusual boarding school, his vulnerability attracts piano teacher Miss Miriam Cornell, leaving scars as well as a memory of love that will never fade.

Now, when his wife vanishes, leaving him alone with his tiny son, Roland is forced to confront the reality of his restless existence. As the radiation from Chernobyl spreads across Europe, he begins a search for answers that looks deep into his family history and will last for the rest of his life.

Haunted by lost opportunities, Roland seeks solace through every possible means—music, literature, friends, sex, politics, and, finally, love cut tragically short, then love ultimately redeemed. His journey raises important questions for us all. Can we take full charge of the course of our lives without causing damage to others? How do global events beyond our control shape our lives and our memories? And what can we really learn from the traumas of the past?

Epic, mesmerizing, and deeply humane, Lessons is a chronicle for our times—a powerful meditation on history and humanity through the prism of one man’s lifetime.

My Thoughts: Well, that was something. I have previously read and loved Ian McEwan (Atonement) and also read and hated Ian McEwan (On Chesil Beach) this one fell clearly in the middle I didn’t love it; I didn’t hate it with fear of damning with faint praise I liked it.

When I say I liked it I mean I liked the scope, I liked the backdrop of world events but I didn’t actually like any character in the whole book, normally that makes me hate a book but in this case world events and the character’s reaction to them saved the story.

Another review pointed out that there is a lot that is autobiographical in this book and after a quick visit to Wikipedia I can confirm that the reviewer is correct. This adds a new dimension to the book as one of the things the book looks at is how much a reader should read into a story especially one that has autobiographical overtones. This is definitely something to ponder.

Who would like this? This will appeal to Ian McEwan fans especially those who have taken an interest in the man himself. I would also recommend this to those who want a working man’s perspective of the biggest events since the end of WWII and their impact on the UK.

We want to hear from you! Have you read this book? What did you think? 

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