Book Review: Solar by Ian McEwan

SolarWhat’s it about?

Michael Beard is a Nobel prize-winning physicist whose best work is behind him. A compulsive womaniser, Beard finds his fifth marriage floundering. But this time it is different: she is having the affair, and he is still in love with her.

When Beard’s professional and personal worlds collide in a freak accident, an opportunity presents itself for Beard to extricate himself from his marital mess, reinvigorate his career and save the world from environmental disaster. Ranging from the Arctic Circle to the deserts of New Mexico, this is a story of one man’s greed and self-deception; a darkly satirical novel showing human frailty struggling with the most pressing and complex problem of our time.

My thoughts

This was our book club read for May and having not being over-impressed with The Children Act I approached this book with trepidation and it seems I was right too! This was a quote from quite early on in the book but it kind of reflects my feelings towards it.

“And that was the problem. Much of the time he did not know what they were saying.”

The book started off well; there’s humourous antics, in particular the artic arrival, the accident and crisps scenes did raise an eyebrow but the author’s choice in language coupled with no chapters and the constant pages of solid text with too much laborious description of the science and technology aspects did not sustain my interest or raise my enjoyment level.

It’s not even if there’s any relatable or engaging characters, the protagonist Micheal Beard is a first class tw*t, his behaviour, the way he treats people, his wives, he’s just not a nice bloke with this air of arrogance about him that he doesn’t seem to think he’s doing anything wrong.

In parts I started to feel a little sorry for him but overall I think he totally deserves what he got but even then he still manages to come up smelling of roses.

I’m so glad to have finished this book for 2 reasons; 1) so I can say I got to the end and 2) so I could start something far more interesting.

This is one of the most baffling and boring books I’ve ever read. I just don’t get all the hype that surrounds Ian McEwan’s books  as they just have a way of making me feel totally uneducated and thick. Although at book club we did discuss the fact that he is able to write about an array of subjects extremely convincingly and with such thorough research that I totally believed everything he wrote – this I can appreciate. Overall, his books are just not for me so won’t be reading another!

If you wanna give it a go, here are the links: Paperback | Kindle

Connect with the author Ian McEwan

Website | Facebook


Book Review: The Children Act by Ian McEwan

The Children ActWhat’s it about?

Fiona Maye is a leading High Court judge, presiding over cases in the family court. She is renowned for her fierce intelligence, exactitude and sensitivity. But her professional success belies private sorrow and domestic strife. There is the lingering regret of her childlessness, and now, her marriage of thirty years is in crisis.

At the same time, she is called on to try an urgent case: for religious reasons, a beautiful seventeen-year-old boy, Adam, is refusing the medical treatment that could save his life, and his devout parents share his wishes. Time is running out. Should the secular court overrule sincerely held faith? In the course of reaching a decision Fiona visits Adam in hospital – an encounter which stirs long-buried feelings in her and powerful new emotions in the boy. Her judgment has momentous consequences for them both.

My thoughts

This was our book club choice for November and having not read Ian McEwan before, I was looking forward to trying a new author. Unfortunately, I don’t think he’s one I’ll read again.

In this book, Ian McEwan dissects a judicial career alongside a long-standing marriage over 5 loooong chapters. Fiona has really made it in her career but at what personal cost and sacrifices? In between the falling apart of her marriage, we’re privy to the cases that she is presiding over, all of which have some kind of moral or ethical dilemma; any of which would have made for interesting reading but McEwan concentrates on the case of a teenage Jehovah’s Witness refusing a blood transfusion and the relationship she forms with the patient and the professional dilemma that ensues.

It’s a highly intelligent, well written novel but it all felt so cold and clinical, and I found it really hard to warm to any of the characters. I found Jack to be completely arrogant, expecting that his wife of considerable years would be ok with him going off to have an affair. They were both as equally as frustrating in that they couldn’t communicate with each other and therefore their marriage lacked the passion they both still seemed to crave.

There are some parts that I would question the believability – I wasn’t entirely convinced that a judge of Fiona’s standing would visit the hospital and she would engage in the singing that she did – a minor point though.

Overall, an interesting view into judicial matters from an author who obviously knows his stuff, but slow and boring in places as it concentrates heavily on description; however it made for a very lively and interesting reading group discussion.

Get the book Kindle | Hardback

Connect with the author, Ian McEwan

Facebook | Website

WWW Wednesday (November 19)

Hosted by Miz B at Should Be Reading and is open to all to participate. Why not join in and let us know what you’re reading this week…


To play along, just answer the following three (3) questions…

• What are you currently reading?
• What did you recently finish reading?
• What do you think you’ll read next?

What are you currently reading?

The Children ActI’m currently reading The Children Act by Ian McEwan for my regular book club but I’m also planning on trying out a new book club at the end of this month who are also reading the same book. Two birds, one stone and all that.

Well, so far, it’s been a pretty slow start with quite a mixed up plot which skips about all over the place, so who knows how this is going to pan out!

What did you recently finish reading?

The Way You Look TonightI’ve recently finished reading The Way You Look Tonight by Richard Madeley which was a good read. Probably not one for die hard crime fans but a good read nonetheless. Review will follow soon.



What do you think you’ll read next?

The Prophecy of BeesMy next read will the The Prophecy of Bees by RS Pateman. This is Rob’s second book, following the chilling psychological thriller The Second Life of Amy Archer and one that I’m really looking forward to reading.



  Have you read any of these, or want to recommend one for my next read?