Sunday, October 01, 2006

The Comfort of Strangers by Ian McEwan

Another 'second read' after a much enjoyed (if that's the right word considering much of the contents) experience with 'Atonement' back in February. It was also another £2 remainder purchase.

The novel is only 100 pages long (exactly if I remember correctly) and I read it yesterday in bed with my cat Tate (and later my husband). The back cover doesn't give much away except that its about a couple who have been together some time and an encounter which changes there life. This 'moment of impact' is the same device that McEwan uses in 'Atonement' and so I was expecting it to occur at the start of the narrative - when in reality it occurs in 'Comfort' at the end.

Their are some beautiful observations of how a relationship can run after several (but not many) years together. The rare love-making, the lack of intimate conversation and the forgetting of how to have fun with each other. When the mysterious stranger figure of Robert terms up he seems to initially take them out of their comfort zone enough to re-enervate their sexual and romantic relationship.

For me this change - amidst beautiful descriptions of what must be Venice - would be enough. But McEwan takes it darker, and then darker still. I'm not sure how this relates to the majority of the book and whether the book is any greater or lesser for inclusion. The feeling of being drawn into an 'Eyes Wide Shut' in some ways overwhelms the pedestrian charm of the rest of the novel. Yet I suppose that is what draws you on to the terrifying (and still to me baffling) conclusion.

'Enduring Love' is sat in my reading stack so I will get around to my 3rd McEwan before long - although I've already attempted it once. We shall see.

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