Anchor The Cement Garden Paperback – 1994
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In this tour de force of psychological unease--now a major motion picture starring Charlotte Gainsbourg and Sinead Cusack--McEwan excavates the ruins of childhood and uncovers things that most adults have spent a lifetime forgetting--or denying. "Possesses the suspense and chilling impact of Lord of the Flies."--Washington Post Book World.
Top Customer Reviews
The quartet form an uneasy family who slowly learn self-sufficiency in an apocalyptic setting: Julie, the eldest, a willful beauty; Jack, the narrator, bewildered by his growing body and appetites; Sue, bookish and ever-observant; and Tom, the baby of the family, who regresses as the days pass. But an imposter, Julie's new boyfriend, threatens their fragile stasis by asking too many questions. How long have the four of them been alone? And just what is buried under the crumbling pile of cement in the basement?
These characters seem both recognizably sympathetic and exotically extraordinary. Ian McEwan succeeds in creating a taut and provocative thriller written in pitch-perfect and stripped-down prose. Beyond a macabre morality tale, "The Cement Garden" reads like a psychological-suspense tale, a perceptive portrayal of adolescence that will keep the reader riveted up until the final, climactic scene in an upstairs bedroom.
The family of a marriage with four children falls apart when both parents suddenly die. Even here, in the very beginning of the book the storyline is unconvincing. After the father dies from stroke, the mother follows him in short order, apparently from incurable illness. In the very first chapter, the very first page even, when this information is passed to the reader - I wish the author had given some more thought to the actual events. The coincidence of their passing away is too artificial for my liking. Even the dysfunctionality of the family does not ring true. Of four children, only one appears to be sane, and what exactly is the probability that out of three teenagers and one toddler - one will turn out to be an early transvestite, and two others incestuous? The plot itself was bland, everything might be intuited right away. If only there was more to this book that the aforementioned storyline, that wouldn't hurt. Sadly, it isn't the case, as McEwan hints at the upcoming events in a bold fashion.
The potential of the tale was not explored, and McEwan seemed to hesitate as to the actual course of the story. Circling around the seemingly unexpected solution to the situation the four children found themselves in, McEwan never dared deliver what he undoubtedly wanted to.Read more ›
Most recent customer reviews
This is a sickening story told from the prospective of a teenage boy who doesn't like his father much. His father dies. Than his mother dies. Read morePublished on July 9 2008 by Robert Edwards
A friend recommended this book to me via email while I was on holidays in London. I read it while riding on the Northern Line, and I cannot think of a more suitable setting for... Read morePublished on Jan. 23 2003 by Amazon Customer
This book will hanunt you: it is horrible and utterly believable, every word dripping with the meaninglessness of life and depression and confusion. Read morePublished on May 7 2002 by Robert J. Crawford
A perverse but enchanting book; beautifully written and perfectly constructed. This is a story about a family of children who find themselves orphaned while living in a house... Read morePublished on Feb. 3 2002 by Penguin Egg
Although I'm a big fan of Ian's, I found this book to be predictable. I enjoyed the character development of the main character. Read morePublished on Oct. 17 2001 by John C. Shaw
The attention to detail was great. Ian really knows how to get inside a teenage boy's head. Somewhat un-realistic, however, and totally predictable. Read morePublished on Oct. 3 2001 by John C. Shaw
Early McEwan, showing the mixture of familial and slightly gothic themes that have resonated through all of his subsequent novels. Read morePublished on Aug. 19 2001 by T. BRANNEY
And the movie is one of my all time favorites. The cinematography is wonderful, and the story is deeply disturbing. Read morePublished on April 6 2001 by R. Gahan