An excellent novel which manages to show the state of the world through one man’s mind on one day. Perowne is a neurosurgeon; the Saturday in question is the day of the anti-war protests just before the invasion of Iraq. In his relationship to his family, a game of squash and a road-rage incident which turns into a home invasion by a thug, he feels and thinks about the state of the world and the state of his life.
McEwan’s prose has these moments of intense insight that are beautiful to read. He manages to write about what it’s like to listen to a certain piece of music, or the subtle feelings you might have waking in the middle of night and watching your wife sleep.
The final scene lifts the whole novel another notch, an inspired piece of writing with Henry Perowne looking out on the square at the end of the long Saturday and thinking about what will come in the future, the leaving of his children, the death of his mother and father-in-law; the terrorist attack that has to happen. He imagines another doctor standing looking out at the square in 1903, and how this doctor would not believe what was to happen in the next one hundred years.