The book ends on a philosophical note with musings on the war on terror, parental love and the difference between punishment and forgiveness. At the end there is a page of acknowledgements to the doctors that helped McEwan with the medical terminology and it is so well researched that when ever the hospital scenes are mentioned there is a shift into a clinical world of assured description.
The suspense is stoked up by the question of whether or not Henry will carry out some sort of revenge when he goes into operate on Baxter who has a fractured skull. He goes in and the suspense is maintained right to the end, even when he returns home you half expect him to admit to killing the intruder.
The reality is that he has searched his soul and decided that he is going to try and get his family to forgive Baxter so he can spend his last few years alive rather than in prison. He then returns home to the comfort of his wife and they celebrate the love they have for each other. They talk about the shock, the terror and the family and the future disruption their daughter’s pregnancy will cause.
Henry then wakes and hears the planes overhead and stands looking out of the window in the same way he had done when the day started. But now there is a more philosophical attitude to the possibility of terror and ageing and he settles back into bed and finally goes to sleep.
A review probably at the weekend…