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.


  1. How bizarre! I have just written this book on my TBR list as my librarian suggested it to me this week. I didn't realise it was by Ian McEwan, which puts me off a little, because I really didn't like his book Saturday. However, I like the sound of the story of this one. My librarian told me that it was supposed to be a book for young adults, but after she read it, she really didn't feel it was suitable.

  2. Hi Michelle,

    I love this book. Have you tried McEwan's short stories?

    Thank you for stopping by my blog, it is lovely to find you here,


  3. How. Creepy.

    I must read this thing.

  4. I've been meaning to read something by McEwan, but I hadn't heard of this one before. I actually like the premise a lot!

  5. OK, that's really creepy, but it has a GREAT cover.

  6. I have a love/hate relationship with McEwan, too! I haven't read this book by him, yet...

  7. McEwan is a favorite of mine because of Amsterdam, Atonement, and On Chesil Beach, but his earlier stuff can be really weird. Cement Garden was particularly disturbing -- even more so now that a couple of years have gone by sine I read it and I can't get it out of my head.

    I was thinking about it in particular lately because I just posted a review of The Innocent, which is a bridge between his earlier, creepier work and his later books.

  8. Michelle, you really MUST go read my review of this book. I just finished this and am still SO disturbed. Yes, I think we both get that he's deep, but man. I can't stop thinking about the book. Sigh. I'm so glad that I noticed someone else had read this one on 1%'s Challenge!


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