I love the law, not enough to have completed my half-hearted attempt at a graduate law degree before running off/away to live in another country, mind you, but I sometimes dip into a really interesting court case and admire the way the facts and the legal and moral arguments are picked apart in court, and put back together again in the findings of a judge.
I think that’s what I admired most about The Children’s Act by Ian McEwan, more than the tale of the marriage of High Court Judge Fiona Maye, and her husband Jack, which is fraying at the edges thanks to Jack’s desire to have one last grand affair. Their relationship is almost an aside to the excellent way McEwan tells the fascinating tale of a court case involving a 17 year old boy with cancer who is refusing a blood transfusion on the basis that he is a Jehovah’s Witness. The scenes set in Fiona’s chambers and in the court all make sense, but when she decides to visit the boy in hospital before making a judgement on whether the boy can or can’t consent to refusing treatment doesn’t work as well.
However, even when McEwan isn’t at his best, he’s still many, many miles ahead of many other authors of his ilk, and now I am going to go back and read On Chesil Beach.