The Children Act

by Ian McEwan              Published 2014 (Vintage)             Adult Fiction

Score:         9/10            Genre: Law, relationship and ethical drama

Fiona, an ambitious, childless family court judge makes ruling on whether Jehovah’s Witness boy should be forced to take a blood transfusion to save his life. Book explores the fraught consequences of her decision against the backdrop of her own troubled marriage.

Moral dilemmas abound in this book, motivating this reader to ask the questions; Would I have made that life choice? That ruling? Reads like a fast-paced BBC law drama episode as quite short at 55,000 words. Minor plot qualm – the way the revelation at the end was exposed – seemed a bit contrived. Thought-provoking but not high- brow.

Recommend for: Everyone but especially those interested in ethics and easily digestible books. Book clubs will find many discussion points arise from the choices Fiona makes both in her private and professional life.

Use to writers: Demonstrates how tight writing can fit meaningful plot, character development and backstory into a short novel. Clever combination of broader ethical/legal issues with personal character stories ie Good example of how to keep reader’s interest on several levels.

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