Enduring Love by Ian McEwan

9780099481249.jpgVintage (Random House). 245 pages.

I don’t know. Maybe it’s because Ian McEwan is an author of such powerful reputation that I was expecting more from Enduring Love. Again, I don’t know. It could be that the whole book was shadowed by melancholic words, tone and rhythm. It’s filled with scientific and literary tidbits. But it’s honestly overall too gray for me. Too English perhaps? The book’s main strength is its unusual plot. But really, at the risk of me being repetitive, I will say it again. Plot is nothing when the storytelling (for me anyway) is too steady (and that is a mild word chosen).

Joe Rose and his fiance Clarissa are enjoying a picnic one fine day. They suddenly witness a ballooning accident and Joe runs to help. In the process of the tragedy, a man accidentally dies and Joe’s life is forever changed. He is convinced that Jed Parry, one of the accident’s witnesses, has fallen in love with him. After that fateful day, he is so sure that Parry is following him everywhere, sending him love letters, and leaving disturbing messages on his phone.

Joe Rose being a scientific writer, he believes Parry suffers from de Clerambault’s syndrome, a disorder which makes the sufferer believe that another person (Joe) is in love with them.

But the story progresses in a way that makes the reader think: Is Joe really being stalked by this strange man, or is Parry just a fragment of his imagination?  With every succeeding narration, one is apt to think that Joe Rose has gone out of his mind, and may, in fact, be the man suffering from de Clerambault’s syndrome.

After reading the book, I thought that the whole story could have done better with a more ‘nail-biting, edge of your seat’ story telling. But it must precisely be this quiet and poetic narration that did it for those who loved the book.

I have yet to read the (again) much loved Atonement, also by Ian McEwan. They say that it’s his masterpiece. But after reading Enduring Love, I’m in no hurry.


Ian McEwan



in a 2004 film adaptation of the book, Daniel Craig plays Joe Rose. Samantha Morton, Clarissa.


and Rhys Ifans as the gay Christian freak.


One response to “Enduring Love by Ian McEwan

  1. This comment is kinda belated but I’ve been looking for somebody else who has read the book.

    I did not/do not like it. The opening sequence was interesting, but it quickly became boring to me because I was not the least convinced that Joe was delusional. I was relly expecting more because Jed’s character is potentially interesting.

    I read online that many people really thought this was based on a true story, what with the ‘medical’ report as an annex, to explain the ‘syndrome.’ I’m no medical person, but I was wondering who in their right mind would have bought the ‘true story.’ !!!

    So, while I know this book is considered a masterpiece, I wonder whether I am the delusional one who is refusing to see the beauty in something which a lot of people agree upon. I tried to conform. I really did. But I still cannot bring myself to say that this was an enjoyable read, or even a painful-albeit-satisfying read ala Wuthering Heights (I HATE the story, but gave a really big sigh of satisfaction upon reflection of the themes).

    Like you, this book made me not rush out to read Atonement. But I will do that soon anyway, just because. Sigh.

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