I first read Ian McEwan’s Enduring Love in 2005 and I promptly got bored after 50 pages or so as I thought that the language was way too flowery for my tastes. At the time I was going through jobs and my mind could not focus on reading. Maybe that is no excuse but when your mind is on other things sometimes it can block out and dominate your life. However it seems that I have been given a second chance.
One fine sunny afternoon, Joe Rose, a Science Journalist, is settling down for a picnic with his girlfriend Clarissa (oooo a classical literary name!) and Joe discovers a hot air balloon being buffeted by the wind and comes rushing (with some other men) to help control the balloon.
Unfortunately they do not succeed and there is a fatality, As Joe is resignedly returning to the picnic he meets one of the men who helped him, Jed Parry. Jed then tries to coerce Joe to pray so that Logan (the fatality) will be saved. Joe refuses and this sparks of Jed’s obsession with him.
Parry then tries to declare his love to Joe by phoning him, trailing him and sending him passionate love letters, all which make Joe become intent on arresting Jed. This passion affects Clarissa, who thinks Joe his making too big a deal and their relationship begins to disintegrate. Finally Jed’s love for Joe reaches an unhealthy climax.
Enduring Love tackles all types of love, not only between Jed , Joe and Clarissa but even from the minor characters in the book. Logan’s widow , a hippie couple who Joe visits even between Clarissa’s brother. It seems that despite all the tests that life offers, love will remain the order of the day and will not disappear.
Although McEwan is known for his rather negative plots, the positivity Enduring Love exudes in its final chapter was a pleasant surprise. I too believe that love is a dominant and everlasting factor in our lives and if there are challenges it makes love stronger.
As always the language McEwan uses is beautiful. The opening chapters about the failed balloon mission is alone one of the best things I’ve ever read and will remain in memory for a long time. Not to mention other rather fantastic scenes. It seems with each sentence Enduring Love becomes more exciting and you are quickly drawn into the complex world of Jed, Joe and Clarissa.
Enduring Love is a book which succeeds on every level is most definitely a classic.