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Monday, July 4, 2011

A Book I Love: Enduring Love by Ian McEwan.

I was made to choose a book I loved and all hell broke loose. For someone like myself, a literature fanatic, why in God's sweet name will anyone prompt me to choose? Asking me to pick "a" book I love is the ultimate sin. Okay, I'm only overreacting. I guess if I really had to pick, if I really really had to pick, hmm, it'd be The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald or Enduring Love by Ian McEwan.

I really want to go on about Enduring Love because of the big ideas, but The Great Gatsby is just so great. You know what? Too many people know about The Great Gatsby. Not enough people know about Enduring Love. Bad, bad. It's such an amazing book that explores love in ways most of us will never think about.
Ian McEwan is more than just a writer. He's that person who knows what people want to read about and how to get us stuck in. He's that man who knows what we ponder and explains it to us in many different ways. He even gives us a chance to ask questions and deviate from what he delivers. All his books have "unique" stamped over them. His style of writing, that is.

So what is Enduring Love? Well, in a nutshell, this book looks at the lives of different people/couples and the love relationships they have, and the one(s) some yearn for. Don't twist and turn, it's not your average love story. One of the messages Ian McEwan shares through Enduring Love is that strangely enough, the love that endures - the love that lasts the longest, if not forever - is the one that isn't reciprocated. He portrays this using the character Jed. Jed is a man diagnosed with De Clerambault Syndrome and he shares a glance with our ever unreliable narrator, Joe.

 What Joe believes is nothing but a look of pity at the death of the hero, John Logan, who dies trying to save a child, is in fact, for Jed, a look of love. A look that gives Jed the rather ridiculous idea that Joe, a science writer and failed scientist, is in love with him and Jed, a religious fanatic, begins to assume God sent him to Joe's life to transform him, you know, religion wise. Meanwhile, Joe is romantically connected to our lovely Clarissa Mellon, who is in many ways different from him.

Another thing Ian McEwan did in Enduring Love was to bring the lives of different people with different views of the world together in an intrusive manner. The stereotypical idea that scientists are too rational to believe in the existence of God or emotion surprisingly marries emotion which is arguably irrational. These two seem to get on fine and along comes religion, who ironically destroys the happiness of science and emotion. This clash is very powerful and moving and it makes you wonder about life in general. It gives you a sense of awareness too. You want to take more notice of your environment, you want to see things beneath their surface, you want to surround yourself with children and rivers because they are a symbol of hope and continuity. Yes, Enduring Love gives you these things.

Ian McEwan's narrative techniques give the book its much anticipated edge. He uses letters, almost-believable documents and a first person narrative point of view, one that we can't trust, to let us know that love is synonymous with ideas of hope and dreams. He also brings in minor characters like the children of John Logan, who represent a unique kind of strength and hope. Their strength lies in the way they have accepted their father's death and their intelligence for such young children. They also take a liking to Clarissa and Joe who can't have children. Now, now, you'd have to read the book to know why. *taps nose*

One of the themes that come to play towards the end of the novel is the idea of forgiveness. Ian McEwan plays with the question: how easy is it to forgive a person who has caused you so much distress? Also, John Logan's wife, Jean represents guilt and forgiveness alike. She has unjustly accused her dead husband of adultery. Who is to forgive her when she discovers the real story? You'd have to read the book to know. Haha.

There's so much to say about Enduring Love, but I fear it would be telling. I've told one too many times, it's almost a part of me. But you should read it. It gives you an experience you wouldn't find anywhere else. That is, a chance to put yourself in the shoes of somebody else and follow their school of thought closely. When you step out, you then re-evaluate your life.

Take it from a person who carries out a self-assessment every day.

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