First of all, I hope you all had a very Merry Christmas/Happy Hanukkah/Joyous Kwanzaa/Happy Holidays! Terribly sorry that I didn’t write for a while. I had a lot of essays to complete (including on this novel) however I could not write about it until after I submitted my essay in case I was accused of self-plagiarising! Anyways, I have a lot of posts lined up to make up for my absence!
The reason I focused my essay on ‘Enduring Love’ by Ian McEwan is because it asks more questions than it answers. While our narrator is telling us about how everyone is crazy and obsessive, we as a reader are left to wonder whether it was actually our narrator who was the mad one?
The main concept of the story is that Joe and Clarissa are having a picnic in a field when they notice a hot air balloon carrying a small child goes out of control. Joe and four strangers rush forwards to hold onto the balloon and save the boy. The balloon gets whisked into the air and four of the men drop off, yet a man called John Logan lets go too late and falls to his death. Joe is unable to rationalise the events that happened. One of the other attempted rescuers, named Jed, falls desperately in love with Joe despite them knowing one another. The rest of the text follows Joe making sense of the balloon event, and also trying to prove to Clarissa that Jed is obsessed with him.
McEwan drops so many clues within his twists and turns that cause the reader to doubt everything they read. Joe himself is proven untrustworthy as he contradicts himself and constantly lies to the police. What is going on here? Is Jed really obsessed with Joe? Is Jed even real? Why does Clarissa not believe Joe for so long? I think you can really see that I enjoyed the uncertainty of this text.
The text also raises issues to do with philosophy, Science vs Religion, Game Theory, mental health and, as the title suggests, love. ‘Enduring Love’ could allude to Joe having to endure Jed’s love, which he does not want nor reciprocate. ‘Enduring Love’ could also suggest that Joe and Clarissa’s love has to endure the difficult events that take place in the book. McEwan plays with form; stream of consciousness, epistolary, various viewpoints and even an appendix with psychological case studies.
I very much recommend this novel to anyone looking for something that will really make them think. Although McEwan’s writing style is fairly simplistic and easy to follow, his actual content holds a great deal of ambiguity and forces the reader to truly think and fill in the narrative gaps. I love a book where I am forced to question not only everything I am told, but the actual narrative-voice itself. I would adore to hear what you thought in the comments down below!
Lots of love, Evie x