A day in the life of one man, his family, colleagues, friends and foes. But this is no ordinary day, this is the day that millions flocked to London to protest against war, the day that Henry is forced to face a personal dilemma. Ian McEwan's characters are so strong and convincingly real that I didn't feel I was observing Henry's life but actually living it with him. I enjoyed this book immensely.
Standing here, as immune to the cold as a marble statue, gazing towards Charlotte Street, towards a foreshortened jumble of facades, scaffolding and pitched roofs, Henry thinks the city is a success, a brilliant invention, a biological masterpiece - millions teeming around the accumulated and layered achievements of the centuries, as though around a coral reef, sleeping, working, entertaining themselves, harmonious for the most part, nearly everyone wanting it to work. And the Perownes' own corner, a triumph of congruent proportion; the perfect square laid out by John Adam enclosing a perfect circle of garden - an eighteenth century dream bathed and embraced by modernity, by street light from above, and from below by fibre-optic cables, and cool fresh water coursing down pipes, and sewage borne away in an instant of forgetting.
An habitual observer of his own moods, he wonders about this sustained, distorting euphoria.