Black Dogs

Black Dogs

4.5 2
by Ian McEwan
     
 

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One of today's most celebrated novelists returns with a novel about family and political loyalties at the end of the Cold War. Writing a memoir of his parents-in-law, Jeremy relates the strange events that brought June and Bernard Tremaine together and set them apart. McEwan is the author of The Cement Garden and The Comfort of Strangers.

Overview

One of today's most celebrated novelists returns with a novel about family and political loyalties at the end of the Cold War. Writing a memoir of his parents-in-law, Jeremy relates the strange events that brought June and Bernard Tremaine together and set them apart. McEwan is the author of The Cement Garden and The Comfort of Strangers.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
In this slim, provocative novel, McEwan (The Innocent) examines the conflict between intellect and feeling, as dramatized in one couple's troubled relationship. The narrator is fascinated by his wife's estranged parents, The lives of June and Bernard Tremaine, whose lives epitomize the tug-of-war between political engagement and a private search for ultimate meaning: their ideological and spiritual differences force them apart but never diminish their mutual love. The catalytic event in the Tremaines' lives occurs on their honeymoon in France in 1946. With the characteristic idealism of their generation, both had joined the Communist Party, but June is already becoming disenchanted with its claims. In an encounter with two huge, ferocious dogs--incarnations of the savagely irrational eruptions that recur throughout history--she has an insight that illumines for her the possibility of redemption. Liberally foreshadowed, --the bloodthirsty beasts are used as an overarching metaphor for the presence of evil in the world-- the actual episode with the dogs is not depicted until the book's final section, where its impact requires the reader to take a leap of faith similar to June's. For some this pivotal scene may not be fully convincing. Indeed, McEwan is rather too didactic in the exposition of his theme, so one may expect too much from the novel's dramatic main event. Yet the work is impressive; McEwan's meticulous prose, his shaping of his material to create suspense, and his adept use of specific settings--Poland's Majdanek concentration camp, Berlin during the dismantling of the Wall, a primitive area of the French countryside--produce a haunting fable about the fragility of civilization, always threatened by the cruelty latent in humankind. (Nov.)
Library Journal
Having lost his parents in an auto accident when he was eight years old, the narrator of McEwan's splendid new novel is fascinated with other people's parents--particularly his remarkable in-laws, indissolubly linked yet estranged and combative almost since their wedding. A man of reason who was once a Communist, Bernard Tremaine cannot understand why his wife, June, rejected political activism for spiritual quest after ``an encounter with evil'' in the form of two fierce black dogs. McEwan does not so much tell their story as the story of the son-in-law's efforts to understand them better by writing about them. Though Bernard and June represent diametrically opposed ways of looking at the world--two views beautifully and succinctly captured by McEwan--they are not mere vessels of thought but lively, distinctive characters in their own right. As the narrator returns to the French countryside where June fatefully encountered the dogs, the deceptively simple buildup makes her brush with violence all the more shocking. A novel of ideas with the hard edge of a thriller; highly recommended. --Barbara Hoffert
From the Publisher
"Brilliant. . . . [A] meditation on . . . the intoxications and the redemptive power of love." —The New Yorker

"Subtle and unforgettable." —Voice Literary Supplement

"The novel's vision of Europe is acute and alive, vivid in its moral complexities . . . we are conquered by the humanity, the urgency, of the novel's characters." —The New York Times Book Review

"Each scene is brilliantly lit, and has a characteristically strange fascination as Ian McEwan juxtaposes 'huge and tiny currents' to show the ways in which individuals react to history." —The New York Review of Books

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780786251322
Publisher:
Gale Group
Publication date:
05/12/2003
Edition description:
Large Print
Pages:
217
Product dimensions:
6.52(w) x 8.48(h) x 0.59(d)

Meet the Author

Ian McEwan is the bestselling author of more than ten books, including the novels The Comfort of Strangers and Black Dogs, both shortlisted for the Booker Prize, Amsterdam, winner of the Booker Prize, and The Child in Time, winner of the Whitbread Award, as well as the story collections First Love, Last Rites, winner of the Somerset Maugham Award, and In Between the Sheets. He has also written screenplays, plays, television scripts, a children’s book, and the libretto for an oratorio. He lives in London.

Brief Biography

Hometown:
Oxford, England
Date of Birth:
June 21, 1948
Place of Birth:
Aldershot, England
Education:
B.A., University of Sussex, 1970; M.A., University of East Anglia, 1971
Website:
http://www.ianmcewan.com

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Black Dogs 4.5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 2 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Is this book qood ?