There's a deceptive coolness about the fiction of Ian McEwan. His prose is severely chiseled, and his strong interest in science lends a clinical air to his narratives, but this must not distract the reader from the deep vein of feeling that runs through them. Certainly it has never been more powerful than in Enduring Love, a novel that is at once an ingenious and formidably intelligent study of one form of mental illness and a wrenching evocation of the risks to which love can be put ... As treated by McEwan, Jed Parry's lunatic passion becomes a fun-house mirror that distorts the real passion between Joe and Clarissa; in so doing, it gives us a strange but revealing perspective on love itself. This may seem unlikely material, but out of it McEwan has fashioned a remarkable novel, haunting and original and written in prose that anyone who writes can only envy.
... [McEwan] has not lost his knack for intimating the unconventional -- his dark glance reminds us that normal behavior conceals but does not banish unsavory truths ... [the appendix] is an impressive transformation, the rearing up of a fictional world around summary notations from the realm of the actual. Impressive, but also curiously ballasted, as if by hewing to the highly eccentric contours of what really happened, the novelist were tethered on some deeper level. Interesting and credible though Joe and Clarissa are, there is some way in which they don't seem thoroughly known, as if McEwan didn't trust that he had permission to imagine them all the way into existence. The same constraint is felt, at times, about the developing situation: it is so unusual that it seems to lack some of the hard granularity of true invention ... The deeper implications of McEwan's novel begin to reach us just when we want to believe that all erratic forms of behavior have been tagged and dealt with.
What’s striking about McEwan’s later work and his new novel Enduring Love is its intimacy with evasion and failure, combined with an alert intelligence about these things which itself looks like grounds for hope ... opens with a moral puzzle so beautifully posed that you wonder if the book is ever going to escape from the parable into the larger, looser fiction ... As the story unfolds, it is evident that dependence and interdependence are the ideas McEwan wants us to think through, although nothing prepares us, or Joe, for what happens next or the turn these ideas take. This is where the parable opens brilliantly into a novel.