The Children Act by Ian McEwan

Fiona Maye, a leading High Court judge, renowned for her fierce intelligence and sensitivity, is called on to try and urgent case. For religious reasons, a seventeen-year-old boy is refusing the medical treatment that could save his life. Time is running out.

She visits the boy in hospital – an encounter which stirs long-buried feelings in her and powerful new emotions in the boy. But it is Fiona who must ultimately decide whether he lives or dies and her judgement will have momentous consequences for them both.

During my Easter holidays I read ‘On Chesil Beach’ by Ian McEwan and it inspired me to try some of his other books, so when I saw this on offer in W H Smith a couple of months ago I decided to buy it. It follows a successful high court judge called Fiona Maye, focusing on one case in particular: a teenage Jehovah’s Witness who is refusing a blood transfusion that could save his life.

Fiona assesses the case and decides to visit the boy in hospital to ascertain whether he is fully aware of the consequences of his decision. The boy she meets is intelligent, charming and touches her in a way she isn’t expecting. It is then up to Fiona to make the decision that could save or end his life.


Fiona decides to rule against his wishes and grants the hospital to go ahead with the transfusion. The transfusion goes ahead just in time and he is saved. He soon realises that he wasn’t in fact ready to die and he seeks out Fiona to thank her while turning against his family and religion.

Fiona then has to learn to cope with the increasingly dependent teenager while dealing with the breakdown of her marriage. A split second mistake changes everything.


I didn’t enjoy this as much as ‘On Chesil Beach’ but it was still a good read and had a similar premise – a portrayal of how small actions can change your life forever.


To take up the violin or any instrument was an act of hope, it implied a future.

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