McEwan tells a tale of a couple that met at the end of WW II. They are pretty, passionate, and intelligent people. They love each other, but cannot live together. He seeks "progression" through life as a scientist, author, politician while she sees life as a "transformation". She is searching for that spiritual thing in her that she 1st noted at a moment when she thought she would die. The author tells a story, but he also paints with his words. This tale, the phrasing, and the rhythm show the difference between just a story teller, and an artist. This a short (140 pages) and thoughtful book that should be read slowly (not in one sitting), and it will stay inside for a long time.