by Ian McEwan
The story starts with a perfect morning in England. Joe Rose and his girlfriend Clarissa are having a picnic in the park when they see a hot air balloon with a little boy in the basket and an old man running after the balloon trying to stop it from flying away. For a few seconds Joe is watching them and then he starts running towards the old man to help him. At the same time some other men were getting there to help them. In the end the boy is saved, but the old man is killed.
What they don’t know is that this day will change their lives forever. That evening one of the men, Parry, who helped to save a little boy, was calling to the Joe’s and Clarissa’s flat. From that evening on the story turns into Parry’s obsession with Joe. The further it goes the more complicated it gets. For no reason Joe starts lying to Clarissa about the phone calls, like it wasn’t anything important. Later he starts getting messages from Parry on his voice mail, but he always deletes them, not knowing why; he thinks he will protect Clarissa from something he doesn’t realize yet. When Parry’s shadowing is out of control, Joe finally confesses to Clarissa about everything that is happening. He hopes they would find a solution out of that, but it’s too late; Clarissa doesn’t believe him. She thinks that Joe is having some sort of mental problem and that he made up the story about Parry chasing him. It’s heartbreaking for Joe to realize that he has lost Clarissa, who used to be so close to him. Now she is a good wishing stranger, who believes he is seriously sick. Everything that happened in the park and after is now like a wall between them…
This book was captivating. A little slow, but intense at the same time. McEwan takes the event of the balloon and reexamines it; the whole story is built around this one event. He makes you think how destructive love can be.
Ian McEwan is an author I always struggle with. Every book I have read written by him leaves me with different feelings – I like, I love, I’m amazed by his writings yet on other hand I don’t understand him. There are moments I absolutely hate the book and think I will never read anything from this author again, but in the end I always know that next time I see his name in a bookstore, I will pick one of his books again.