Author: Ian McEwan
Genre: Historical Fiction
Publication Date: 13th September 2022
While the world is still counting the cost of the Second World War and the Iron Curtain has descended, young Roland Baines’s life is turned upside down. Stranded at boarding school, his vulnerability attracts his piano teacher, Miriam Cornell, leaving scars as well as a memory of love that will never fade.
Twenty-five years later, as the radiation from the Chernobyl disaster spreads across Europe, Roland’s wife mysteriously vanishes and he is forced to confront the reality of his rootless existence and look for answers in his family history.
From the fall of the Berlin Wall to the Covid pandemic and climate change, Roland sometimes rides with the tide of history but more often struggles against it. Haunted by lost opportunities, he seeks solace through every possible means - literature, travel, friendship, drugs, politics, sex and love.
His journey raises important questions. Can we take full charge of the course of our lives without damage to others? How do global events beyond our control shape us and our memories? What role do chance and contingency play in our existence? And what can we learn from the traumas of the past?
The scope of this hefty novel is seriously ambitious, encompassing countless world events whilst winding its way through the life of one man, but Ian McEwan is a highly skilled writer and pulls the whole thing together with confidence and elegance. He writes so beautifully and intelligently about the human experience that you don’t notice the length of the book at all. Lessons covers all the different meanings of the word, from childhood piano lessons to lessons we learn about ourselves to lessons the world has learned as a whole, or has not learned in all too many cases. Each aspect of the novel is thoughtful and poignant whilst also providing moments of both levity and great anger or sadness. Lessons requires a bit of investment, time-wise, however it is truly worth it to enjoy a supremely talented author do what he does best. I’d absolutely recommend!
Thank you so much to Anne Cater of Random Things Blog Tours for inviting me on this tour and organising it. I kindly received a copy of the book from the publisher. My review is entirely my own honest opinion.
Buy the book: