The Comfort of Strangers
Colin and Mary are lovers on holiday in Italy, their relationship becoming increasingly problematic as they become increasingly alienated from one and other. They move from place to place in this foreign land but seemingly without aim or purpose and more, seemingly bored and without attachment.
Then they meet a man named Robert and his wife, Caroline, who is crippled. Colin and Mary seem happy for the diversion--happy to meet another couple that takes the focus of off them (off of each other) for a while. Things become strange (and stranger yet; one could say horrific) when they attempt to leave: Robert and Caroline insist that they stay with them for a while longer.
While Mary and Colin indeed rediscover each other in ways during this time--an erotic attraction to each other that was below the surface--they also find that their relationship/friendship with Robert and Caroline takes turns that are likewise erotic and violent in nature. A pervasive dread runs through this novel, leading to the terrible climax that no reader could predict. Absolutely in the key of McEwan, without match in the genre, and a very worthwhile read.
Haunting and compelling - The Times 19961231
"As the best young writer on this island, McEwan's evocations of feeling and place and his analysis of mood and relationship remain haunting and compelling."--"The Times"
"As always, McEwan manages his own idiom with remarkable grace and inventiveness; his characters are at home in their dreams, and so is he."--"Guardian"
"His writing is exact, tender, funny, voluptuous, disturbing."--"The Times"
"The Maestro."--"New Statesman"
"McEwan has--a style and a vision of life of his own...No one interested in the state and mood of contemporary Britain can afford not to read him."--John Fowles
"A sparkling and adventurous writer."--Dennis Potter
"Haunting and compelling." -"The Times"
"McEwan, that master of the taciturn macabre, so organizes his narrative that, without insisting anything, every turn and glimpse is another tightening of the noose. The evils of power and the power of evil are transmitted with a steely coolness, and in a prose that has a feline grace." -"Observer"
Ian McEwan has written two collections of short stories, First Loves, Last Rites and In between the Sheets, and seven novels, The Cement Garden, The Comfort of Strangers, The Child in Time, The Innocent, Black Dogs, The Daydreamer, Enduring Love and Amsterdam, winner of the 1998 Booker Prize.