Some will find this book vulgar—and I certainly think many authors who would've touched the same subject would've made it so—but with McEwan it almost has a beauty to it. It's a straight forward story told without flair or trick, and, for some readers, that itself may be more vulgar than the plot.
Starting from the first line, “I did not kill my father, but I sometimes felt I had helped him on his way,” author Ian McEwan lets us know in this early short novel that this is not going to be a happy fairy story. In fact we quickly learn what a destructive, aimless life young people can lead without guidance from elders. I don’t know if that is the intended lesson from the author, but that what I reaped from this work. This was my first McEwan novel, but I do believe it will not be my last.
The style of the prose makes it an "easy read" but the content is really unsettling. From the first few pages the readers have a disturbing idea of what would eventually happen but they can't stop reading until the thing actually happens and the readers' initial suspicions are confirmed.
To be honest, I found some of the sexual aspects of this book quite disgusting, and I don't think I'm a prude.
In Ian McEwan's debut novel, "Lord of the Flies" meets "Catcher in the Rye" meets "Flowers in the Attic." "I did not kill my father," begins "The Cement Garden," "but I sometimes felt I had helped him on his way." Soon the narrator's mother dies as well, leaving four children to fend for themselves in a secluded, ramshackle house.
The quartet form an uneasy family who slowly learn self-sufficiency in an apocalyptic setting: Julie, the eldest, a willful beauty; Jack, the narrator, bewildered by his growing body and appetites; Sue, bookish and ever-observant; and Tom, the baby of the family, who regresses as the days pass. But an imposter, Julie's new boyfriend, threatens their fragile stasis by asking too many questions. How long have the four of them been alone? And just what is buried under the crumbling pile of cement in the basement?
These characters seem both recognizably sympathetic and exotically extraordinary. Ian McEwan succeeds in creating a taut and provocative thriller written in pitch-perfect and stripped-down prose. Beyond a macabre morality tale, "The Cement Garden" reads like a psychological-suspense tale, a perceptive portrayal of adolescence that will keep the reader riveted up until the final, climactic scene in an upstairs bedroom.
Rather a grim book. Father has grand ideas for a cement garden in the back yard. While constructing the cement garden Father dies of a heart attack. The 4 children are left with mother. As Mother's health declines the children become more and more involved in their own worlds and fantasies. When mother dies there is no one able to make a decision about what to do. Each child becomes more and more drawn into their own realm of reality to deal with the parents' deaths in their own way - mostly through bizarre behaviours that finally attract the attention of someone who knows what to do. Not as violent as Lord of the Flies, but probably a little more bizarre. A good psychological look at the breakdown of family.
VV12 thinks this title is suitable for 13 years and over
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