Top positive review
on May 22, 2000
I loved this story: it stayed with me for days. The writing is enviably beautiful and rich; the theme is intelligent and challenging. Ostensibly, the debate between mysticism versus rationalism sunders Bernard and June. But each of the combatants possesses the worst traits of the other's ideology. Bernard has a slavish faith in the scientific method, while June feels the necessity to shore up her spirituality with flawless rhetoric and argumentation. They must both explain: and the irony is that their marriage ends, even though they are both talking about the same thing: the truth as they perceive it.
While this certainly isn't a new theme (postmodernism and its subsequent backlash has provided us with a lot of reading lately), McEwan handles it creatively and respectfully. He gives us no answers and never insults our intelligence.
Finally, McEwan brings up the question of evil and how we respond to it. In one situation, our narrator would turn away from it given his choice(when Bernard faces the mob, and the narrator doesn't); in another situation, the narrator confronts evil in another, bigger man and in himself.
It is a short, worthwhile, well-crafted read.