Thursday, March 26, 2009
The Cement Garden by Ian McEwan
"It was not at all clear to me now why we had put her in the trunk in the first place. At the time it had been obvious, to keep the family together. Was that a good reason? It might have been more interesting to be apart. Nor could I think whether what we had done was an ordinary thing to do..."
I have a kind of love/hate relationship with Ian McEwan. I can tell that his books are well written and I appreciate that he does symbolism well and he covers a wide range of interesting themes, in this book particularly gender identity. Also, the relationships in his novels, especially sexual relationships are done very bizarrely and I did feel a little uncomfortable with the incestuousness in the book. However, I continue to come back to Ian McEwan. Even if I hate the story-line or don't particularly connect with the characters. I always go back. The Cement Garden is McEwan's first published novel and I think it's a chilling little book. I think this is one that crept up on me, it got a little under my skin, which I'm starting to think is a common trait with McEwan's novels.
The Cement Garden is the story of four children who are left to fend for themselves after the deaths of their father and then shortly after, their mother. In order for the children to remain together, they don't report their mother's death and instead they bury her in cement in a trunk in the basement. Each child handles these deaths in different ways, hiding in books, regressing to early childhood. It has a very Lord of The Flies feel to it, the ways in which these children seem to separate themselves from society without the supervision of any adults. A dark little novel.