by Ian McEwan
Category: Fiction / General
245 pages; ISBN: 0-099-27658-5
Rating: 8/10 (Ratings explained)
Based on a true case this novel is concerned with the pressures on a relationship when the man becomes the innocent victim of an obsessive stalker.
"Enduring Love", Ian McEwan's seventh novel is a work of fiction based on the true case history of a man suffering from de Cle'rambault's syndrome. Parts of an article from the British Review of Psychiatry on the case are reproduced as an appendix to the text.
Victims of de Cle'rambault's syndrome fixate obsessively on another person, often a complete stranger, and believe that their "love" is requited however strong the evidence to the contrary. All the love object's actions whether sympathetic, hostile or indifferent are interpreted in a way that bolsters the delusion.
Very sensibly McEwan tells the tale from the receiver's point of view, restricting the sufferer Parry to a couple of letters since his endlessly illogical rationalisations quickly become tedious. Parry meets his victim John Rose when both are involved in trying to bring a runaway hot air balloon under control (an incident based on an unrelated newspaper article) which results in the death of a third man, Logan.
From that day on, Rose, a successful science writer living a comfortable middle class existence with his lecturer girlfriend Clarissa, has his life invaded by the stalker, Parry. Clarissa does not take Parry seriously and their relationship comes under increasing strain.
I won't give away any more of the plot which at times relies on creaky coincidence and has a rather tame climax. Where the novel really scores is in the quality of the writing as McEwan describes Rose's mental turmoil as he tries to deal with the increasingly threatening intruder and lingering guilt over Logan's death without support from his partner or the authorities. Rose's profession also allows McEwan to skilfully interweave some interesting ideas on the conflict between science and religion with the main narrative thread.
Analysed thus it does appear to be a patchwork quilt of a novel - that this isn't apparent while actually reading it is an indication of the author's skill.
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