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Joe Rose has planned a postcard-perfect afternoon in the English countryside to celebrate his lover's return after six weeks in the States. To complete the picture, there's even a "helium balloon drifting dreamily across the wooded valley." But as Joe and Clarissa watch the balloon touch down, their idyll comes to an abrupt end. The pilot catches his leg in the anchor rope, while the only passenger, a boy, is too scared to jump down. As the wind whips into action, Joe and four other men rush to secure the basket. Mother Nature, however, isn't feeling very maternal. "A mighty fist socked the balloon in two rapid blows, one-two, the second more vicious than the first," and at once the rescuers are airborne. Joe manages to drop to the ground, as do most of his companions, but one man is lifted sky-high, only to fall to his death.
In itself, the accident would change the survivors' lives, filling them with an uneasy combination of shame, happiness, and endless self-reproach. (In one of the novel's many ironies, the balloon eventually lands safely, the boy unscathed.) But fate has far more unpleasant things in store for Joe. Meeting the eye of fellow rescuer Jed Parry, for example, turns out to be a very bad move. For Jed is instantly obsessed, making the first of many calls to Joe and Clarissa's London flat that very night. Soon he's openly shadowing Joe and writing him endless letters. (One insane epistle begins, "I feel happiness running through me like an electrical current. I close my eyes and see you as you were last night in the rain, across the road from me, with the unspoken love between us as strong as steel cable.") Worst of all, Jed's version of love comes to seem a distortion of Joe's feelings for Clarissa.
Apart from the incessant stalking, it is the conditionals--the contingencies--that most frustrate Joe, a scientific journalist. If only he and Clarissa had gone straight home from the airport... If only the wind hadn't picked up... If only he had saved Jed's 29 messages in a single day... Ian McEwan has long been a poet of the arbitrary nightmare, his characters ineluctably swept up in others' fantasies, skidding into deepening violence, and--worst of all--becoming strangers to those who love them. Even his prose itself is a masterful and methodical exercise in defamiliarization. But Enduring Love and its underrated predecessor, Black Dogs, are also meditations on knowledge and perception as well as brilliant manipulations of our own expectations. By the novel's end, you will be surprisingly unafraid of hot-air balloons, but you won't be too keen on looking a stranger in the eye. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
Maxwell Caulfield gives a chilly narration of McEwan's novel about a tragic incident that opens the door to an encounter between a stalker and his victim. Joe Rose and his wife, Clarissa, enjoying a picnic, are interrupted when a hot-air balloon escapes from its moorings with a child on board. McEwan's engrossing account of the event describes in minute detail the moment the balloon takes flight to the death of one of the would-be rescuers. It is during this time that Jed approaches Joe and begins a series of harassing phone calls, letters, and personal confrontations. The first-person narrative by Joe is effective in following the disturbed young man as he drives a wedge between the couple. Caulfield's reading brings out the highly emotional character of the pursuer and the frustration of his quarry. Recommended for fiction collections.?Catherine Swenson, Norwich Univ. Lib., Northfield, VT
Copyright 1998 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
Ian McEwan: Enduring Love.
I have problems with this author’s books. There were times when I considered McEwan the greatest of all present writers. Read more
Okay, so McEwen has one a few Bookers, but I hated Amsterdam, and I didn't like Enduring Love much better.
What do we have here? Read more
One one level, at least, McEwan descends to that of the ordinary: the mere plebian. This is the first book of his I have read where one of the main characters isn't a busom buddy... Read morePublished on April 20 2002 by Richard Cunningham
I first read Ian McEwan in 1976. I had just arrived in Ireland for a year of study and picked up an inexpensive Picador paperback edition of his first collection of stories, "First... Read morePublished on April 18 2002
I was given this novel to read for english class and found it a little difficult to get into in the beginning. Read morePublished on April 2 2002
I started this book with an open mind but just could not finish it. It is one of the worst books that I've ever picked up. How did people get past the ridiculous premise? Read morePublished on March 31 2002
I think the opening pages of Ian McEwan's "Enduring Love" are among the finest in all of literature. "We were running towards a catastrophe," says one of the characters. Read morePublished on March 30 2002
This is a well-written book, in fact a superbly written book, with McEwan demonstrating his considerable narrative and descriptive skills. Read morePublished on March 25 2002 by email@example.com
McEwan has aged well and in "Enduring Love" his razor-edged prose is still chilling... The book is, at once, a dazzling meditation on causality and circumstance, science and... Read morePublished on March 2 2002 by Gavin B.