Is having lost one’s childhood worse than having lost a child?

by Cygne Sauvage

Having read the synopsis at the back of the book, I braced myself for emotional episodes. This is Ian McEwan’s work after all.   Not a single novel I have encountered from this author has failed to impress me: Atonement, Amsterdam, Solar, and The Innocent.   However, The Child in Time roused a lukewarm interest from this reader who, until the end of the story, is still attempting to grasp the coherence in the plot.

I cannot even be certain on the gist of the novel.  Is it about the child’s disappearance and how the tragic event drove the parents apart? Is it about the government’s superficial efforts to effect reforms in child-rearing? Or a high-ranked government official’s struggle with conflicting desires to be in the mainstream of political actions and at the same time his despise of its disturbing impact on his mental stability that he retreated back to his lost childhood? A reader would wonder whether losing one’s childhood is worse than losing a child.

Does the book’s attempts to expound on the relativity of time, which depending on the observer can accelerate or decelerate, are meant to stimulate the reader to view personal characterization in relation to this physical variable?  That everyone is a child or an adult based on one’s accord of which period of time he/she would comfortably fit in.  Such as when the lead protagonist, the father of the lost child, was invited to lunch with the prime minister, he stubbornly throws a  childish attitude and opts to attend the affair in unconventional, untidy outfit.

Nevertheless, McEwan never disappoints with the discourses presented in the book which in some chapters could be a resource reference material for a student aspiring to be a physicist.

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