This book review was written by Cynthia Haskell, a member of the Tuesday Evening Book Club.

Published in 2014, The Children Act is the 13th novel by highly acclaimed British author Ian McEwan. Well-researched and written in McEwan’s inimitable elegant prose, this book is set in London and focuses on the case of a 17 soon to be 18 year old Jehovah’s Witness leukaemia patient who, supported by his parents and Church, is refusing an urgent blood transfusion to enable life-saving drugs to be administered. He is extremely articulate and literate with a penchant for poetry and music.

His future rests with the judgment of a highly respected, 59 year old female high-court Judge. Throughout the novel McEwan refers to cases she has worked on, not necessarily involving medical treatment, but certainly various religions and socio-demographics, which not only show how children’s futures can be impacted by the law (hence the title), but also her compassion, her immaculate fairness and her commitment to her work. However, this commitment, broken only by her interest in singing and music and long-ago composed poems in a drawer, something she has in common with the young patient, has compromised her long-standing, childless marriage. Her husband, a geology lecturer, seeks her permission to embark on a fling with a young statistician, the night before the case is to come before her, and receiving neither a yes or a no, walks out on her.  

 Will their marriage be reconciled? Will she rule in favour of the hospital or the young patient and his family? You will need to read the book to find out, and it will keep you reading right to the final twist.

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