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Enduring Love By Ian McEwan

Updated on March 9, 2016
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Enduring Love - A Novel By Ian McEwan

Enduring Love is a novel by award winning author Ian McEwan, first published in 1997

On an ordinary spring day, while he is enjoying a picnic with his girlfriend, Clarissa, the calm, organised life of science writer Joe Rose is turned upside down due to the repercussions of a tragic accident.

Joe and Clarissa's intimate picnic is disrupted when they notice a hot-air balloon out of control and being tossed around by strong winds. To his horror, Joe realises that a young boy is trapped in the basket of the balloon, and he and several other onlookers rush to help, including a man named Jed Parry. Tragically, in the attempt to save the boy, one of the would-be rescuers is killed. Joe is so shocked by what has happened, he doesn't take much notice of Jed Parry at the time - but Jed Parry has certainly noticed Joe...

Their chance meeting spawns a dangerous obsession in Parry, an obsession powerful enough to test the limits of Joe's rationalism, threaten his relationship with his girlfriend and drive him to the brink of murder and madness.

On this page you'll find reviews and summaries of both the book for those wishing to read the novel, plus quotes and links to Enduring Love A level study guides and other information resources.

Enduring Love Quotes

More quotes from Enduring Love further down the page

"The beginning is simple to mark. We were in sunlight under a turkey oak, partly protected from a strong, gusty wind. I was kneeling on the grass with a corkscrew in my hand, and Clarissa was passing me the bottle - a 1987 Daumas Gassac. This was the moment, this was the pinprick on the time map..."

— Enduring Love
Enduring Love by Ian McEwan
Enduring Love by Ian McEwan | Source

Plot Summary Of Enduring Love

Synopsis of Enduring Love by Ian McEwan

Enduring Love is Ian McEwan's sixth full length novel.

Much hyped at the time of release, "Enduring Love", has stood the test of time despite it's critics and is on the English Literature syllabus for A level students.

Enduring Love has one of the most compelling first chapters of any book ever written. The narrator is Joe Rose, a successful science writer in his 40's. He has enjoyed a happy relationship with his common-law wife Clarissa for many years.

On the way home from picking Clarissa up from the airport, the couple stop for a picnic in the Oxfordshire countryside and as Joe starts to open a bottle of wine, his contented and secure life changes forever...

Hearing a cry, Joe and Clarissa witness a hot-air balloon clearly out of control. The basket of the balloon contains a terrified child and a frantic man is desperately trying to pull the balloon back to the ground. Joe and several other witnesses rush to help the man, but their efforts end in tragedy.

The aftermath of the events of that day affects all those involved, but decidedly unexpected reprecussions occur for Joe, Clarissa and Jed Parry, one of the bystanders who attempted to anchor the balloon.

Joe and Parry exchanged no more than a glance during the rescue attempt, but for Parry, that glance changed his life and turned Joe and Clarissa's world upside down...

The novel explores the theme of relationships (physical, emotional and spiritual) and the issue of trust. Echoing his earlier novel "Black Dogs", McEwan puts his characters into a situation where they are forced to question their values, beliefs and everything they hold dear and familiar in life.

Joe is the main character and outwardly the "victim", but McEwan introduces more than a tiny element of doubt about Joe's version of reality in the mind of the reader and does so in a compelling and very readable fashion...this is definitely a "can't put it down until I find out what happens" kind of book.

Highly recommended.

The balloon scene from the film version of Enduring Love

The balloon accident is the catalyst for everything else that follows. What happens destroys all the carefully laid plans Joe has devised for his future and changes his life.

The romantic picnic at which he intended to propose marriage to Clarissa marks the end of his control of his life. The pivotal moment is when he becomes aware of the significance of the balloon and from that moment, he is no longer master of his own destiny. He experiences the psychological trauma of trying and failing to save another man's life and he meets the psychologically disturbed Jed Parry who despite their encounter being brief, becomes obsessed with him.


"I have no doubt that I remember his words correctly. He said 'Is that Joe?' I didn't reply. I had already recognised the voice. He said, 'I just wanted you to know, I understand what you're feeling. I feel it too. I love you'..."

— Enduring Love

Ian McEwan's Enduring Love - 'A' Level Exam Revision Tips

Ian McEwan's "Enduring Love" (Routledge Guides to Literature)
Ian McEwan's "Enduring Love" (Routledge Guides to Literature) | Source

A Level English Literature: Enduring Love

Ian McEwan's "Enduring Love" (Routledge Guides to Literature)

This is a recommended study guide to Enduring Love for AS and A level students.

Features interpretations of the text and themes, quotes and critical essays by the guide author Peter Childs, along with others by Kiernan Ryan, Sean Matthews, Martin Randall, Paul Edwards, and Rhiannon Davies.

To see reviews of this guide on Amazon, please click the link on the right.

Enduring Love chapter 10 movie scene - Joe rejects Jed

De Clerambault's Syndrome

Jed Parry suffered from De Clerambault's Syndrome, also known as "erotomania".

Erotomania is a psychological condition in which a sufferer believes that someone of a higher social class, or someone in the public eye is deeply in love with them, even though the object of their affection is usually unaware of their existence.

The condition is named after the psychiatrist Gaetan Gatian de Clerambault.

In Enduring Love, Jed Parry displays the classic signs of the syndrome, becoming romantically obsessed with Joe Rose after a chance encounter with him. He stalks Joe, first causing him confusion which develops through embarrassment, paranoia and eventually into anger and violence.

More information about De Clerambault's Syndrome can be found on Wikipedia: Erotomania.

"Don't ever walk by me as if I wasn't there. Neither of us can be fooled. Never deny my reality, because in the end you'll deny yourself..." Jed

— Jed - Enduring Love

© 2008 LouiseKirkpatrick

Enduring Love Comments - Have you read Enduring Love or seen the film version? Love it? Hate it? Tell us what you thought...

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    • profile image

      anonymous 

      6 years ago

      I loved this book, thought it was really different to others! Well written page.

    • Steph Tietjen profile image

      Stephanie Tietjen 

      7 years ago from Albuquerque, New Mexico

      This story seems intriguing. I have this on my reading list now and will see the movie. Thank you!

    • OhMe profile image

      Nancy Tate Hellams 

      7 years ago from Pendleton, SC

      I haven't read Enduring Love by Ian McEwan and haven't seen the movie but now would like to do both. Thank you.

    • Diana Wenzel profile image

      Renaissance Woman 

      7 years ago from Colorado

      This one looks quite interesting. Thank you for introducing me to Enduring Love. I always appreciate a good book review.

    • profile image

      alanwearing 

      7 years ago

      We will definitely take a look

    • dezz266 profile image

      dezz266 

      7 years ago

      I definitely plan on reading this book, sounds very interesting :)

    • profile image

      anonymous 

      7 years ago

      I haven't read Enduring Love, but I certainly intend to now! This is a great review. I've only read Atonement, and loved it. I tried to read Saturday, but just couldn't get interested. Looking forward to reading this one.

    • Stazjia profile image

      Carol Fisher 

      7 years ago from Warminster, Wiltshire, UK

      I've only read half of one of McEwan's SF novels and hated it. Maybe I should try this and see if I like his writing in literary fiction better.

    • singlemaltdram profile image

      singlemaltdram 

      7 years ago

      haven't read it but sounds like a good premise.

    • profile image

      scar4 

      8 years ago

      An appealing book for me to read in winter holiday.

    • jackieb99 profile image

      jackieb99 

      8 years ago

      I loved this book!

    • Ramkitten2000 profile image

      Deb Kingsbury 

      8 years ago from Flagstaff, Arizona

      This sounds good! I've jotted it down on my "to read" list.

    • PaulaMorgan profile image

      Paula Morgan 

      8 years ago from Sydney Australia

      I have read other titles by Ian McEwan but had not head of this one... I am going to try to find it now.. thanks best book lens i have seen so far

    • Linda BookLady profile image

      Linda Jo Martin 

      8 years ago from Post Falls, Idaho, USA

      I will definitely watch the movie and maybe read the book!

    • LouiseKirkpatrick profile imageAUTHOR

      LouiseKirkpatrick 

      9 years ago from Lincolnshire, United Kingdom

      @giacombs-ramirez: It may not be a good reason to read the book, but it's certainly a good reason to watch the film - at least you can admire Mr Craig even if you don't like the story!

      Thanks for the rating & blessing - much appreciated :)

    • giacombs-ramirez profile image

      gia combs-ramirez 

      9 years ago from Montana

      Wow, that's quite the review! I love Daniel Craig...is that a good reason to read the book??? Blessed! and Starred!

    • profile image

      anonymous 

      9 years ago

      Fascinating exploration of this book and the author. 5*

    • profile image

      mitchking 

      9 years ago

      This is an excellent sounding story.

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