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"...and for those parents, for too many years misguided by pallid relativism of self-appointed child-care experts..."
- The Authorized Child-Care Handbook,
Her Majesty's Stationery Office

Subsidizing public transport had long been associated in the minds of both government and the majority of its public with the denial of individual liberty.  The various services collapsed twice a day at rush hour when it was quicker, Stephen found, to walk from his flat at Whitehall than to take a taxi.  It was late May, barely nine-thirty, and already the temperature was nudging the eighties.  He strode to Vauxhall Bridge past double and treble files of trapped, throbbing cars, each with its solitary driver.  In tone the pursuit of liberty was more resigned than passionate.  Ringed fingers drummed patiently on the sill of a hot tin roof, white-shirted elbows poked through rolled-down windows.  There were newspapers spread over steering wheels.  Stephen stepped quickly through the crowds, through layers of car radio blather--jingles, high-energy breakfast DJs, news flashes, traffic "alerts."  Those drivers not reading listened stolidly.  The steady forward press of the pavement crowds must have conveyed to them a sense of relative motion, of drifting slowly backwards.

Jigging and weaving to overtake, Stephen remained as always, though barely consciously, on the watch for children, for a five-year-old girl.  It was more than a habit, for a habit could be broken.  This was a disposition, the outline experience had stenciled on character.  It was not principally a search, though it had once been an obsessive hunt, and for a long time too.  Two years on, only vestiges of that remained; now it was a longing, a dry hunger.  There was a biological clock, dispassionate in its unstoppability, which let his daughter go on growing, extended and complicated her simple vocabulary, made her stronger, her movements surer.  The clock, sinewy like a heart, kept faith with an unceasing conditional: she would be drawing, she would be starting to read, she would be losing a milk tooth.  She would be familiar, taken for granted.  It seemed as though the proliferating instances might wear down this conditional, the frail, semiopaque screen whose fine tissues of time and chance separated her from him; she is home from school and tired, her tooth is under the pillow, she is looking for her daddy.

Any five-year-old girl --though boys would do -- gave substance to her continued existence.  In shops, past playgrounds, at the houses of friends, he could not fail to watch out for Kate in other children, or ignore them in the slow changes, the accruing competences, or fail to feel the untapped potency of weeks and months, the time that should have been hers.  Kate's growing up had become the essence of time itself.  Her phantom growth, the product of an obsessive sorrow, was not only inevitable -- nothing could stop the sinewy clock -- but necessary.  Without the fantasy of her continued existence he was lost, time would stop.  He was the father of an invisible child.

But here on Millbank there were only ex-children shuffling to work.  Further up, just before Parliament or Whitehall or within sight of the square.  But a few were taking advantage of the confluence of commuter routes.  He saw their bright badges from a couple of hundred yards away.  This was their weather, and they looked cocky with their freedom.  The wage-earners had to give way.  A dozen beggars were working both sides of the street, moving towards him steadily against the surge.  It was a child Stephen was watching now, not a five-year-old, but a skinny prepubescent.  She had registered him at some distance.  She walked slowly, somnambulantly, the regulation black bowl extended.  The office workers parted and converged about her.  Her eyes were fixed on Stephen as she came.  He felt the usual ambivalence.  To give money ensured the success of the government program.  Not to give involved some determined facing-away from private distress.  There was no way out.  The art of bad government was to sever the line between public policy and intimate feeling, the instinct for what was right.  These days he left the matte to chance.  If he had small change in his pocket, he gave it.  If not, he gave nothing.  He never handed out banknotes.

The girl was brown-skinned from sunny days on the street.  She wore a grubby yellow cotton frock and her hair was severely cropped.  Perhaps she had been deloused.  As he distance closed he saw she was pretty, impish and freckled with a pointed chin.  She was no more than twenty feet away when she ran forward and took from the pavement a lump of still glistening chewing gum.  She popped it in her mouth and began to chew.  The little head tilted back defiantly as she looked again in his direction.

Then she was before him, the standard-issue bowl held out before her.  She had chosen him minutes ago, it was a trick they had.  Appalled, he had reached into his back pocket for a five-pound note.  She looked on with neutral expression as he set it down on top of the coins.

As soon as his hand was clear, the girl picked the note out, rolled it tight into her fist, and said, "Fuck you, mister."  She was edging round him.

Stephen put his hand on the hard, narrow shoulder and gripped.  "What was that you said?"

The girl turned and pulled away. The eyes had shrunk, the voice was reedy. "I said, Fank you, mister."  She was out of reach when she added, "Rich creep!"

Stephen showed empty palms in mild rebuke.  He smiled without parting his lips to convey his immunity to the insult.  But the kid had resumed her steady, sleepwalker's step along the street.  He watched her for a full minute before he lost her in the crowd.  She did not glance back. --Ce texte fait référence à l'édition Broché .

Revue de presse

"A death-defying story, inventive, eventful, and affirmative without being sentimental." —Time"Luminous, haunting, restrained . . . cuts to the core of human existence." —Chicago Tribune"Resonates with psychological reality: the beautifully layered relationships, the tracing of the many-layered love between father and child, husband and wife. . . . As artfully conceived as it is poignantly realized." —The New York Times Book Review"A great pleasure to read. . . . McEwan writes as if Dickens, Lawrence, and Woolf were in his bones. . . . Funny and unsentimentally passionate." —The Wall Street Journal --Ce texte fait référence à l'édition Broché .

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Amazon.com: 79 commentaires
119 internautes sur 124 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
Magnificent 20 janvier 2003
Par Steven Reynolds - Publié sur Amazon.com
Format: Broché
This is the first of McEwan's mature novels, and easily one of his best. He goes well beyond the psycho-sexual darkness of his short stories and novellas into new philosophical territory. When it opens with the daughter of children's author Stephen Lewis being snatched from the local supermarket, you could be forgiven for thinking this novel is going to be about Stephen's obsessive, fruitless search for her and his inevitable psychological collapse. But Kate's disappearance is just the beginning. McEwan sidesteps the perils of family melodrama and rapidly escalates this into an intelligent and surprisingly moving novel about childhood, memory, growth, the horrors of conservative politics, and the joys of theoretical physics. McEwan's topic is time, and in addressing it from unexpected and seemingly disparate directions he demonstrates that a novel doesn't have to be an obvious, linear, plot-driven story. By the end, you realise you have in fact been told a wonderful story - one about Stephen's emotional adaptation - but that the novel is all the better because this has not been the explicit or only focus. In fact, all the pieces of this dazzlingly audacious philosophical puzzle slot perfectly into place in a final chapter which is as wonderfully unexpected as it is profoundly moving. McEwan's gift is for making the "big themes" real for us; for showing us how they're constantly moving, like continental plates, beneath the mundanity of our every day lives. He takes you places you don't expect to go. He assumes you're as intelligent as he is, and he gives you plenty to think about and plenty to do. When it works, as it does here, it's wonderful.
53 internautes sur 57 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
McEwan Is A Terrific Writer! 5 juillet 2004
Par Foster Corbin - Publié sur Amazon.com
Format: Broché
On a most ordinary day Stephen walks with his three-year-old daughter Kate to a supermarket. At the checkout lane there is no no other customer behind him. As he checks out, he turns briefly from his daughter, looks around and she is gone. What has to be one of the worst nightmares that any parent can possibly conceive of happens to Stephen and his wife Julie: their beautiful daughter has been kidnapped. With that calamity, Ian McEwan begins another fine novel.
The trademarks we have come to expect from McEwan are here: something horrendous happens to people through no fault of their own, and their lives are irrevocably and forever changed. In McEwan's own words, a "malevolent intervention" occurs. McEwan asks hard questions about the very nature of existence and relationships and life. He makes profound philosophical observations; and as usual, even though his prose is dense, the reader races through his story.
McEwan delves into the meaning of childhood-- children always live in the present-- memory-- you remember what you remember; you forget what suits you-- the relativity of time: time is dependent on the speed of the observer; time slows down during a panic.As always, McEwan's language is both precise and concise. And I believe he coins a couple of verbs too: "first-naming" and Brylcreemed."
Without giving away the ending of this incredible novel, I can say that this is the most positive McEwan I've read, and I've read my way through most of his works. Usually the action takes place someplace beyond despair. Here we have the joy of starting over. As Emily Dickinson would say, "love is all we know of love. A beautiful ending to a beautiful novel.
Mr. McEwan is one terrific writer.
23 internautes sur 25 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
An outstanding study of interiors - one of McEwan's best 16 mars 2001
Par Un client - Publié sur Amazon.com
Format: Broché
Ian McEwan never disappoints. I've read "Enduring Love" and "The Comfort of Strangers" and they're both excellent. In his 1987 Whitbread Prize winning novel "The Child In Time", McEwan tunnels deep into the subconscious to deliver an outstanding study of interiors that positively glows and radiates with poignance and compassion. There is the inevitable social commentary on power, hypocrisy and corruption but none of the anger and vitriolic you might expect. Using the subject of a child gone missing in a supermarket as its starting point, the novel snakes its way around with dramatic twists and turns nobody could have anticipated - a typically McEwan trait - that continually shatters the reader's evolving preconception of what the novel is all about. One moment you're astral travelling with Stephen as he struggles manfully with his private grief while sitting absentmindedly in parliamentary subcommittee meetings on children's education, the next you're in a nasty car accident and a stroll down memory lane that proves to be pivotal in drawing all the loose ends together. The confession Stephen's mother makes to him will strike you like a lightning rod. It comes full circle, suggesting the power of the subconscious in shaping the reality we perceive as fixed or unchanging when it hangs on a thread. McEwan's command of his craft is none more evident than in suddenly letting Stephen's almost indifferent friendship with Charles take centrestage in the last third of the novel, with devastating effect but for a purpose, not as a gimmick but because it's highly explanatory. Though McEwan suppresses his natural taste for the macabre in TCIT, there's still a liberal dose of the uncanny left in these pages to savour and enthrall us and give the novel the distinctive McEwan touch. This time though, he has in store for us an ending that's beautifully rounded, emotionally congruent, and morally uplifting. What more can a reader ask for ? TCIT is a wonderful novel, richly deserving of the critical accolades heaped on it. Go get a copy and read it. You won't be disappointed.
20 internautes sur 22 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
A beautifully written piece, I found the ending very moving 12 juillet 1999
Par Un client - Publié sur Amazon.com
When Kate, daughter of Stephen and Julie is taken from a supermarket(don`t worry, I haven`t spoiled anything!)there is no way for Stephen`s life to go but down.The book centres on his struggle to find his daughter,meeting people from his time and even travelling to the past to discover aspects of his parent`s lives. The time element in this book is uncomfortable to the reader, yet McEwan`s writing takes you fluidly through the plot,with the difficult subject of time beautifully interwoven. I really enjoyed reading this novel and studying it for English Literature A-Level as it is written so provocatively that one cannot fail to relish the piece. The characters are fully rounded and fit into the plot with the greatest of ease. The plot itself is extremely well thought out and expertly written by a great English writer. McEwan is able to draw upon the innocence which the plot desires, Whilst also creating a clillingly spooky atmosphere. This book is no easy read, it`s wonderfully moving ending is reached only after a disturbingly beautiful and sometimes horrific plot. This has to be counted amongst McEwan`s greatest works,and all in all, "The Child In Time" is a wonderfully written journey through the darkest elements of time, which leaves the reader with the radiating glow of hope.
16 internautes sur 17 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
the loss of a child from a father's perspective.. 25 août 2003
Par lazza - Publié sur Amazon.com
Format: Broché
'The Child in Time' has many of the hallmarks of a McEwan novel. It is extremely well written, splendid characterizations, and it is a slow-paced read. Full kudos on his use of written English but as with his other works, even the terrific 'Atonement', he seems to stretch what should be a relatively short piece of fiction into twice or three times its appropriate length.
However 'The Child in Time' is certainly an interesting read. A young couple losses a daughter in a most traumatic way ... abduction. We then live through its aftermath from the father's viewpoint (..the father character narrates the story). The author is extremely sensitive and caring in the way he handles the the father's shock and ultimate recovery (..in a sense) of the situation. A very well-observed analysis.
Bottom line: at times McEwan's over-elegant prose almost buries the keen psychological analysis of parental suffering. Yet it's a most memorable read (even to single guys like me).
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