Saturday, a day like any other. Only this particular day is different for neurosurgeon Henry Perowne. Saturday the 15th of February of the year 2003, to be exact. This book by Ian McEwan describes Henry as he lives through what he believes to be just another Saturday. However slowly but steadily you come to realize that it is not just a normal Saturday. People are crowding the streets to oppose a war that is about to happen over in Iraq and Henry feels slightly more aware of his conciousness than he usually does.
Henry is a successful doctor, who married the love of his life, due to what he believes was sheer luck. Rosalind was one of his patients years ago when he was merely a junior surgeon. Years later they have two beautiful children, Diasy and Theo. Diasy is a poet who is about to publish her first book and Theo is a musician. In the book you follow Henry his thoughts all through the day. He's not the narrator but rather the focalizer. You experience the story through his 'stream of conciousness'. He has a busy day ahead of him. First a squash match with his colleague and friend Jay, after which he has to do groceries, see his mother in her nursing home, then make dinner because his daughter and his father-in-law are coming over for dinner. He hasn't seen Diasy in six months and he is excited to finally have his whole family in the same hosue again. However when he wakes up in the middle of the night, he watches a plain crash into London. Or at least what he believes to be a crash. It's a surreal experience, especially because as the day progresses you learn that people are demonstrating against participation in the war that America has set out to begin. A war in Iraq, to catch the terrorists that caused 9/11 and however many casualties it will take to find them and take them down. After witnessing the crash, Henry is day changes. The day that was going to be a normal Saturday turns out to be anything but a normal Saturday as the day progresses.
Reading this book at this time might have been a tat too much, for me as well as the rest of my class (mandatory read for University). We now know what comes of that particular war, the war that is central to this book. We live in it's shadow. And after the 13th of November I feel saddened by all of it. I, too, am ignorant much like Henry, about these things. Blessed that these wars were far away. Yet they are creeping in, coming closer. And none of us know what is next, an issue also discussed in this book. An interesting read with interesting perspectives to big issues that are still central to our lives, whether we want them to be or not.
On the one hand Diasy is telling Henry to open his eyes and see what is about to happen, and in fact actually did happen, to a lot of innocent people so far away from their home. Yet at the same time Theo is telling Henry to stop thinking about all the worries of the world and instead focus on the small things. Two very opposed views on life. I feel that I have been stuck in between both of these. On the one hand I know none of us may ever truly be happy if we worry about ever little/big thing that is going on outside of our small lives, but focussing solely on our own small lives and happiness seems to be selfish, ignorant and mean. Is there truly a good way to live? Is striving for your own happiness really selfish? Everybody seems to have an opinion about it. I don't think I do. I'm indecisive about it.
I won't pretend to know what's wrong and what's right. I won't pretend to know what the appropriate course of action is. And I know that just continuing about my day, studying for exams I will have rather than worrying about refugees might be selfish. But I don't know how to solve that problem, I don't know how to solve this issue that has been in our lives for god knows how long. I do know how to study for my exams and make sure that I make it through an other day. So that's what I will do for now. No matter what anyone else thinks about that.