Lessons: A novel (Hardcover)
From the best-selling author of Atonement and Saturday comes the epic and intimate story of one man's life across generations and historical upheavals. From the Suez Crisis to the Cuban Missile Crisis, the fall of the Berlin Wall to the current pandemic, Roland Baines sometimes rides with the tide of history, but more often struggles against it.
When the world is still counting the cost of the Second World War and the Iron Curtain has closed, eleven-year-old Roland Baines's life is turned upside down. Two thousand miles from his mother's protective love, stranded at an unusual boarding school, his vulnerability attracts piano teacher Miss Miriam Cornell, leaving scars as well as a memory of love that will never fade.
Now, when his wife vanishes, leaving him alone with his tiny son, Roland is forced to confront the reality of his restless existence. As the radiation from Chernobyl spreads across Europe, he begins a search for answers that looks deep into his family history and will last for the rest of his life.
Haunted by lost opportunities, Roland seeks solace through every possible means—music, literature, friends, sex, politics, and, finally, love cut tragically short, then love ultimately redeemed. His journey raises important questions for us all. Can we take full charge of the course of our lives without causing damage to others? How do global events beyond our control shape our lives and our memories? And what can we really learn from the traumas of the past?
Epic, mesmerizing, and deeply humane, Lessons is a chronicle for our times—a powerful meditation on history and humanity through the prism of one man's lifetime.
About the Author
IAN MCEWAN is the critically acclaimed author of seventeen novels and two short story collections. His first published work, a collection of short stories, First Love, Last Rites, won the Somerset Maugham Award. His novels include The Child in Time, which won the 1987 Whitbread Novel of the Year Award; The Cement Garden; Enduring Love; Amsterdam, which won the 1998 Booker Prize; Atonement; Saturday; On Chesil Beach; Solar; Sweet Tooth; The Children Act; Nutshell; and Machines Like Me, which was a number-one bestseller. Atonement, Enduring Love, The Children Act and On Chesil Beach have all been adapted for the big screen.
“McEwan returns with his best work since the Booker- and NBCC-winning Atonement . . . Throughout, McEwan poignantly shows how the characters contend with major historical moments while dealing with the ravages of daily life, which is what makes this so affecting. He also employs lyrical but pared-down prose to great effect . . . Once more, the masterly McEwan delights.” —Publishers Weekly [★ starred review]
“Richly observed . . . A tale of aspiration, disappointment, and familial dysfunction spread across a vast historic panorama . . . McEwan’s imagination delivers plenty of family secrets and reflects on ‘so many lessons unlearned’ in a world that’s clearly wobbling off its axis.” —Kirkus Reviews [★ starred review]