Skip to main content

REVIEW: Solar by Ian McEwan

In general I really like Ian McEwan's books. I've not read all twelve of them, and they might not end up being the classics of our era but he has a way with words and stories that draws me in. The opening chapters of Enduring Love are how to paint vividly with words, and the intimacy and internal turmoil of On Chesil Beach captivated me.

Solar is the story of Nobel Laureate, Michael Beard. Once a hero and now repeatedly married, overweight, balding and never having quite got to where he might have been.

McEwan's brilliance is in creating characters who are frustrated and flawed. People who could have been heroes but really aren't, and then telling us of how their lives fall apart. When you read Atonement you watch the characters trying to sort their lives out but it all frays apart and the justice you're crying out for never comes. Beard's life is one great disappointment. A Nii Lamptey of the science world, the next big star who never fulfilled his potential.

Solar tells the story of how his life of mediocrity reaches new levels as his personal and private lives collide, set against a backdrop of climate change science in the Noughties, in three parts set in 2000, 2005 and 2009. McEwan kept me reading, kept me hoping and provides the right kind of ending.

McEwan knows how to write in an Ecclesiastes world instead of in Hollywood, a world where happy endings are uncommon rather than normal, where the main character might not be a hero, a man whose best days aren't ahead but long behind him, where personality flaws and circumstances conspire against us rather than giving us everything on a plate, a world where change might really be possible but where no one really has the will or the power to do anything.

Solar is not a particularly cheery beach read, but it's a story for our times.
Have you read it? What do you think of Solar or Ian McEwan's books?

Discussion Guide for Solar at Readers Place
Study Guide at Damaris.org

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

"Big eyes full of wonder"

Books. Fiction. Libraries. Second only to churches as are the best gateways in your community to ultimate reality and new possibilities.

Our local library has just re-opened after refurbishment, and I love that our boys have spent several mornings there during the summer holidays, discovering some wonderful new stories.

I realised a few months back that I wasn't reading enough fiction. My work necessitates reading a lot of non-fiction, a mix of historical and contemporary thinking, biblical studies and theology. But fiction is the cinderella. Easily overlooked, and yet able to awaken my imagination and show me the way things are meant to be.

So I've picked up a few more lately - bought and borrowed. Not every book attempted flies, and that's ok. These have been winners though.

Ink. This is Alice Broadway's debut novel. It's young adult fiction and tells the story of Leora who lives in a world where the events of your life are tattooed on your skin. Nothing gets hid…

Uniquely Matthew

Reading gospel accounts in parallel is sometimes used to blur the differences in perspective between the evangelists, seeking to harmonise the texts and find a definitive historical account of what happened. No such thing exists because every account is biased and limited. You simply can't record everything. You have to hold a vantage point. And that's not a problem.

Matthew, Mark and Luke take a very different vantage point to John who was of course an eyewitness himself of the events. Comparing the text of Matthew, Mark and Luke across the death and resurrection of Jesus yields two steps.

Firstly, the common ground. All three accounts tell of...
Simon of Cyrene carrying the cross…. · Jesus labelled as King of the Jews…. · Criminals crucified with Jesus… · Darkness in the daytime… · Jesus' loud final cry… The women who witnessed Jesus death, and Jesus' burial… · The tomb lent to Jesus by Joseph of Arimithea… · The women who went to the tomb on the morning of the…

Songs we're singing in Church

Christians are a singing people, it's part of what we do when we gather.

Our church meets morning an evening on a Sunday - normally using 5 songs in each service. So, over the year that's about 520 song-slots available. The report from the database system we use (http://planningcenteronline.com/) tells us that in the past year we've sung about 150 different songs.

Our current most used song has been sung 11 times in the last year, just under once a month. Our top 10 are used about every 6 weeks. By #30 we're talking about songs used every two months. The tail is long and includes loads of classic hymns from across the centuries, plus other songs from the past 40 years, that we have used around once a term or less.

1. Rejoice - Dustin Kensrue



2. Come Praise & Glorify - Bob Kauflin



3. Man of Sorrows - Hillsong



4. Cornerstone - Hillsong


Rejoice was a song I didn't previously know, along with a couple of others that have quickly become firm favourites for me: Chri…