The following is a brief summary of Saturday by Ian McEwan from his website:
Saturday is a novel set within a single day -- 15 February 2003. Henry Perowne is a contented man - a successful neurosurgeon, happily married to a newspaper lawyer, and enjoying good relations with his children, who are young adults. What troubles him is the state of the world - the impending war against Iraq, and a general darkening and gathering pessimism since the New York and Washington attacks two years before. On this particular Saturday morning, Perowne makes his way to his usual squash game with his anaesthetist, trying to avoid the hundreds of thousand of marchers filling the streets of London, protesting against the war. A minor accident in his car brings him into a confrontation with a small-time thug called Baxter. To Perowne's professional eye, something appears to be profoundly wrong with this young man. Baxter, in his turn, believes the surgeon has humiliated him, and visits the opulent Perowne home that evening, during a family reunion - with savage consequences that will lead Henry Perowne to deploy all his skills to keep this doomed figure alive.
This was such an interesting novel and to think back on it, I find it amazing that all of these events took place over the course of just one day. McEwan takes us through Henry Perowne's journey of this Saturday that may turn out to be one of the worst days of his life. I don't want to give the impression that this book is all gloom and doom, because it is far from that.
When Perowne awakens Saturday morning, I think he knew this was going to be an odd Saturday because the first thing that he saw was an airplane engulfed in flames in need of making an emergency landing. He was deeply troubled by this sight and when the local news station deemed this story as irrelevant, he was even more bothered by the incident. This set Parowne's tone for the day, and everything that took place after that had a very negative snowball effect. It seemed that every thing that happened was out of his control and he just had to handle new problems as they arose.
I enjoyed how McEwan developed a story that took place over the course of only one day, but included the importance of the journey of Henry's family life as a foundation. He really brought out how the family was able to trust and count on each other during their time of crisis. Secrets are revealed at the most inconvenient moments, but they must put their differences aside to make sure that they all make it through the current tribulation safely.
I really enjoyed this novel and as it was ending I was thinking that the writing was so beautiful that it was comparable to a musical prose for me. The theme of relationships was so important in this novel that I appreciated how Henry was lying with his wife at the end of the book, looking back on the events of the day as if it were a journey they had taken together. As their whole life was a journey, so was this one day.
My Rating: 4/5