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Contemporary Writing Book Review – Ian McEwan’s Enduring Love ‘…a most lasting form of love’.

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Contemporary Writing Book Review - Ian McEwan's Enduring Love '...a most lasting form of love'. That is the description given in the first appendix of Ian McEwan's novel of a condition suffered by Jed Parry, one of its protagonists. Although it offers the reader a final clue to the love alluded to in the title, ever-present ambiguity has already allowed it to evade succinct definition. 'Enduring Love' begins with what its narrator, Joe Rose, calls a 'pinprick on the time map.' Joe and his longtime lover, Clarissa, a Keats scholar just back from an extended research trip, are setting up a picnic in the Chiltern Hills. As Joe reaches for the wine bottle, they hear an alarmed shout. ...read more.


Joe Rose is a science journalist, and McEwan uses his rationalism repeatedly as a foil to Parry's seemingly irrational fixation. This contrast creates a layer of tension to the story, which is heightened by the juxtaposition of suspense and the discussion that surrounds it. McEwan lingers on the details - a wine bottle being opened, the label on the bottle, a red shoe lace - holding the suspense until the moment of revelation. The suspense escalates throughout: 'before I let [the gust of wind] reach us let me freeze the frame - there's a security in stillness - to describe our circle.' The opening is designed to captivate and immediately engages the reader: 'we were running towards a catastrophe', but one which we are not yet allowed to see. ...read more.


'Our love was just the kind to endure' says Joe of Clarissa; 'Our love was the kind meant to go on' writes Clarissa to Joe. Such tenderness at moments later in the novel is both bittersweet and ironic, when neither one's loves is 'enduring' like Parry's. There's an unusual and very welcome ending to the story, though not quite a resolution; the scientific genre especially tends to leave things unsettled. We are left asking with whom we are to side: whether it be Joe's scientific and often chilling interpretation of events, or Parry's blind, unrequited though intensely passionate desires. Perhaps we are offered one final latent clue in this perplexing and mysterious examination of love when discovering that in fact the Doctors that describe Parry's 'most lasting form of love', Wenn and Camia, are in fact an anagram of McEwan. ...read more.

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