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Anchor The Cement Garden Paperback – 1994

27 customer reviews

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Paperback, 1994
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Product Details

  • Paperback
  • Publisher: Anchor (1994)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0679750185
  • ISBN-13: 978-0679750185
  • Product Dimensions: 13.1 x 1 x 20.3 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 159 g
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (27 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #2,441,961 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Product Description

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.

Customer Reviews

4.1 out of 5 stars
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By Reader Writer Runner TOP 50 REVIEWER on July 6 2012
Format: Paperback
In Ian McEwan's debut novel, "Lord of the Flies" meets "Catcher in the Rye" meets "Flowers in the Attic." "I did not kill my father," begins "The Cement Garden," "but I sometimes felt I had helped him on his way." Soon the narrator's mother dies as well, leaving four children to fend for themselves in a secluded, ramshackle house.

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.
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By A Customer on March 9 2002
Format: Paperback
"The Cement Garden" is one of the early novellas by Ian McEwan, a winner of the 1998 Booker Prize for his novel "Amsterdam". Perhaps there is a reason why this book is not as popular as it might be, given the later-day success of this writer, as indicated by the awards. "The Cement Garden" is a plot-driven story with a great potential which nevertheless has never been exploited.
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.
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Format: Paperback
"The Cement Garden" took me exactly two hours to read, and in that time I never been subject to a more disturbing novel so deeply intent in it's power to shock and astonish the reader. What strikes me about this novel is the deadpan tone the author adopts to convey an array of taboo subject matter, ranging from death to, more importantly, incest. Everything is detailed in a simple, matter-of-fact tone that one would perceive as being from an adolescent. The families 'secret' made known to the world through Derek yet we arent given full detail of his horror at the discovery and the children never seem to fully comprehend the consequences of their actions. The fact we never find out what happens to the children once they have been discovered heightens the fact that this novel is unlike any other, which would almost allude to the idea that the novel is largely lacking a sufficient closure. The allusion to a dream in the closing words of the final chapter, coupled with the various dreams of the protagonist scattered throughout the novel makes the reader think that maybe the entire events of the novel is just one mere daydream. The novel, like a dream itself never seems to end, and the reader is left at their discrtion to almost imagine typical scenarios that give answers to their unanswered questions. I think the novel serves as an accurate characterisation of the modern working-class family (although events for the average modern working-class family WOULD differ considerably) and embodies everything that is quintesssentially english about being English, ranging from the various attitudes to setting. In conclusion I would emphasise that the book has many strengths, and should be pursued by many to pass excite and intrigue an otherwise dull afternoon.
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By A Customer on June 8 2000
Format: Paperback
This novel is filled with rotting things: snacks discarded under beds like dirty socks; ancient leftovers which ferment into a truly mean cuisine; undumped rubbish which converts an otherwise pleasant backyard into an horrifically pungent landfill.The undisposed of body of Mommy, however, is at the heart of this shocking novel, and the stench of decay which eventually reeks from her cement coffin is suffocatingly descriptive of the ripe state of mind which gradually envelops these wild youngsters. In language both simple and explosive, Ian McEwan has created a story of hallucinatory proportions. What kinds of relationships would children develop among themselves if left entirely on their own? There are moments of rather eerie adolescent tenderness in these pages which provide fresh (ah!) food for thought. These kids seem bizarre. But are they? You may or may not care to live with (or like) them, but a few hours spent in their creative company might just make for a mighty sound investment. Read them!
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