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Enduring Love Broché – 1997
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This is not a bad book because Ian McEwan is a talented writer, however it should have been a great book because the subject was captivating. I read it with both pleasure and a great interest, but I wasn't entirely convinced by the characters, especially Clarissa, who seems too detached from the whole thing, completely averse to facing problems and dealing with them. Her attitude is just highly unlikely, how can she deliberately ignore that her love and companion is being stalked. On the other hand, some unnecessary digressions about Joe's work weaken the plot and tend to lessen the reader's rising unease. In conclusion, Enduring Love is quite a good book but it is certainly not as good as Atonement.
Le style est assez moderne et très compréhensible.
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McEwan does a fine job in painting the lead character Joe Rose, as well as the secondary players. His use of language is clear and simple, yet never elementary. The opening chapter is as powerfully imagined as any other I've read. The reader is literally hanging by a rope at the suspense of the scene. And it sets the tone for the psychological terror to come.
More than a summer read, Enduring Love explores corners of our psyches and personalities that we don't often come face to face with. Suspense, terror, humor, and the very real idea of love and romance are alive in this book, which I reccommend as enjoyable to readers of any of these genres.
It turns out that this other man, Jed, is deeply disturbed, and from that one exchanged look, he falls in love with Joe. Beyond that, he is certain that Joe loves him, and that Joe's every gesture is some sort of secret communication of affection. This leads to a "Fatal Attraction"-like obsession which is a little less violent but maybe even more disturbing.
What separates this from just being another Fatal Attraction rip-off is Joe, who has problems of his own. Utterly rational - to the point of irrationality - Joe's attempts to clinically deal with his problems actually exacerbate them. His absolute certainty in the correctness of his actions lead to paranoia and alienation; instead of getting assistance with Jed, he winds up looking crazy himself...and due to the first-person narrative, the reader may start assuming Joe is insane as well.
Although Ian McEwan may not be known as a suspense writer, Enduring Love shows that he is good at writing such tales. But this is not merely a thriller; it's also a tale of obsession and guilt and how the two can intertwine. This is a book well worth reading.
"Enduring Love", published more than twenty years after that first collection of stories, is different from his earliest writing in the sense that its narrative turns around a more conventional, albeit still psychologically driven and bizarre, set of circumstances.
As many reviewers have commented, the first chapter of "Enduring Love" is a compelling page-turner. Joe and Clarissa, long-time lovers, are setting up a picnic under a tree on the edge of a wide expanse of field. Clarissa, a Keats scholar, has just returned from an extended research trip to Rome and the picnic is an occasion for them to celebrate their reunion. In Joe's first person narrative: "The beginning is simple to mark. We were in sunlight under a turkey oak, partly protected from a strong, gusty wind. I was kneeling on the grass with a corkscrew in my hand, and Clarissa was passing me the bottle-a 1987 Daumas Gassac. This was the moment, this was the pinprick on the time map: I was stretching out my hand, and as the cool neck and the black foil touched my palm, we heard a man's shout. We turned and looked across the field and saw the danger."
And what was the danger? Joe and Clarissa see a hot air balloon pulling away from the ground, a young boy in the basket of the balloon while an older man, his companion, struggles desperately to hold onto the balloon, to keep it tethered to the ground in the face of gusty winds.
Soon, Joe is running across the field to help, along with three other men. It is a moment in time, "the pinprick on the time map," that Joe explores obsessively, examining it, turning it, over and over, trying to understand how such an instant can change an entire life.
Joe and the three other men soon catch up to the balloon, the four of them, together with the boy's older companion, struggling to hold the balloon down, to keep it from blowing off with the young boy as scared passenger. It becomes apparent, however, that their efforts are failing, the balloon starting to rise higher, the four men holding on, each of them facing grave physical danger and a powerful moral dilemma. Each must decide whether to continue to hold on, running the risk that if the others do not then he will face near certain death from falling. As Joe later relates, looking back on that moment, "I didn't know, nor have I ever discovered, who let go first. I am not prepared to accept that it was me. What is certain is that if we had not broken ranks, our collective weight would have brought the balloon to earth a few seconds later as the gust subsided."
Thus begins "Enduring Love", the first chapter seemingly narrating an event and a moral conundrum that immediately captures the reader, leading him to believe that the rest of the novel will explore how this event affects the lives of Joe and Clarissa and the rest of the book's characters. However, in typical McEwan fashion, the plot takes a much different turn. What begins as a tragic event that elicits moral ponderings veers into a narrative of science, religion and psychological obsession.
Joe Rose encounters one of the other would-be rescuers, Jed Parry, while standing in the field after their ill-starred rescue attempt. Parry, an apparently religious fanatic, sees deep meaning in his time-bound encounter with Joe. He becomes obsessed with Joe, stalking him and, eventually, threatening Joe's relationship with Clarissa and Joe's very well-being. Parry suffers from de Clerambault's syndrome, a type of homo-erotic obsession with religious overtones. As the scientific appendix to the novel notes, "this is indeed a most lasting form of love, often terminated only by the death of the patient."
"Enduring Love" thus begins by posing a moral dilemma, but soon evolves into a compelling novel of deviant psychological obsession, of conflict between religion and science, and of a deep, introspective examination of how a loving relationship can soon unravel in the face of threats from the outside. It is a thought-provoking novel, albeit one which at times seems somewhat lacking in feeling, the reader (at least this reader) having difficulty identifying with the often clinical coldness of Joe's first person narration. While the tone of Joe's narration may be intentional, McEwan intending to write in a voice that reflects the unfeeling tone of Joe's deep-seated scientific rationalism, the narrative never quite rings true to life. "Enduring Love" is, nonetheless, a fascinating and worthwhile novel that gives the reader much to ponder.