The Children Act


  • The Children Act by Ian McEwan
  • The Children Act by Ian McEwan


    Fiona Maye, a leading High Court judge, is called on to try an urgent case. For religious reasons, a seventeen-year-old boy is refusing the medical treatment that could save his life. Fiona must decide whether he lives or dies and her judgement will have momentous consequences for them both.

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  • The Children Act by Ian McEwan


London: Jonathan Cape, 2014.

New York: Nan A. Talese/Doubleday, 2014.

Selected Reviews and Criticism

"A British judge faces a complex case while dealing with her husband's infidelity in this thoughtful, well-wrought novel…McEwan creates at every turn something new and emotionally rewarding." -- Kirkus Reviews

"As in Atonement, what doesn't happen has the power to destroy; as in Amsterdam, McEwan probes the dread beneath civilized society…Few will deny McEwan his place among the best of Britain's living novelists." -- Publishers Weekly, starred review

"Irrefutably creative ... McEwan once again observes with depth and wisdom the universal truth in the uncommon situation." -- Booklist, starred review

"Like all of McEwan's work, The Children Act ... is a very readable narrative, fortified with suspense and displaying a taste for the lurid." -- Philip Marchand, National Post

"Fans of Ian McEwan are going to love The Children Act.... Both heartbreaking and funny at the same time." -- The Vancouver Sun

"A svelte novel as crisp and spotless as a priest's collar. . . . Another notable volume from one of the finest writers alive." -- The Washington Post

"Masterful. . . . Begins with the briskness of a legal brief written by a brilliant mind, and concludes with a gracefulness found in the work of few other writers." -- Meg Wolitzer, NPR

"Powerful. . . . Convincingly presents a complex woman in all her nuances. . . . A paragon becomes all too human in this aching tale." -- New York Daily News

"The first thing to do about Ian McEwan is stipulate his mastery. Anything we want a novelist to do, he can do, has done. His books are fantastically pleasurable. Their plots click forward, the characters lifted into real being by his gliding, edgeless, observant, devastating prose—his faultless prose. . . . Every novelistic mode is at his command, from the dark fabulism of The Child in Time to the vibrant sweep of Atonement to the modest but beautiful realism of his more recent work, On Chesil Beach, Saturday, Solar." -- Chicago Tribune

"Highly subtle and page-turningly dramatic. . . . Only a master could manage, in barely over 200 pages, to engage so many ideas, leaving nothing neatly answered." -- The Boston Globe

"It's a joy to welcome The Children Act. . . . [The novel's] sense of life-and-death urgency never wavers. . . . Profound. . . . You would have to go back to Saturday or Atonement to find scenes of equivalent intensity and emotional investment." -- The Wall Street Journal

"McEwan here crafts a taut morality tale in crystalline sentences." -- O, The Oprah Magazine

"A quietly exhilarating book. . . . Reveals an uncanny genius for plucking a resonant subject from the pages of lifestyle journalism and teasing it out into full scenes and then pressing them hard for their larger, enduring meanings." -- Los Angeles Times

"Powerful. . . . Heartbreaking and profound. . . . Skillfully juxtaposes the dilemmas of ordinary life and tabloid-ready controversy." -- People

"Smart and elegant. . . . Reminds us just how messy life can be and how the justice system, despite the best of intentions and the best of minds, doesn't always deliver justice." -- USA Today

"A finely written, engaging read. . . . Poignant, challenging, and lyrical." -- The Huffington Post

"Haunting. . . . [A] brief but substantial addition to the author's oeuvre." -- Entertainment Weekly, A-

"One of the most extraordinary, powerful, moving reading experiences of my life. . . . An utterly remarkable novel, delicately balanced, perfectly crafted, beautifully written." -- Alberto Manguel, author of A History of Reading

"Captivating. . . . Achingly romantic. . . . Entertain[s] some messy dualities: the limits of the law and the expansiveness of humanity, youth and age, guilt and innocence, the confines of religion and the boundlessness of free thought." -- The Houston Chronicle

"Fascinatingly complex and finally heartbreaking. . . . A quite beautiful work of fiction." -- The Times (London)

"Masterly. . . . As one begins an Ian McEwan novel—this is his 13th—one feels an immediate pleasure in returning to prose of uncommon clarity, unshowiness and control. . . . The best novel he has written since On Chesil Beach." -- The Guardian (London)

"As ever, McEwan achieves the rich, fine-grained realistic texture that makes his novels, sentence by sentence, a pleasure to read." -- The London Review of Books

"Swift and compelling, asking to be read in a single sitting. . . . So skillfully composed and fluently performed, it's a pleasure from start to finish, one not to be interrupted." -- Evening Standard (London)