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With his life constantly in flux as he lives through many historic upheavals, Roland Baines, haunted by lost opportunities, searches for comfort through music, literature, friends, sex, politics and love, struggling against global events beyond his control that have shaped his existence and memories. - (Baker & Taylor)

NEW YORK TIMES BEST SELLER • 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.
“Masterful.... McEwan is a storyteller at the peak of his powers…. One of the joys of the novel is the way it weaves history into Roland’s biography…. The pleasure in reading this novel is letting it wash over you.” —Associated Press

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. - (Random House, Inc.)

Author Biography

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.
- (Random House, Inc.)

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Reviews Via Publishers Weekly

Publishers Weekly Reviews

McEwan returns with his best work since the Booker- and NBCC-winning Atonement, a sprawling narrative that stretches from the commencement of the Cold War to the onset of the Covid-19 pandemic. Protagonist Roland Baines, "another inky boy in a boarding school," is 11 when his piano teacher, Miriam Cornell, begins to groom him for abuse. A sexual relationship ensues, and Roland never recovers from the experience. He grows into a distant underachiever, eventually finding work as a lounge pianist in London and, occasionally, as a journalist. He marries Alissa and has a son, Lawrence, but Alissa disappears when Lawrence is an infant. With help from the police, he tracks her movement to Paris, prompting bittersweet memories of their courtship. In 1986, three-year-old Lawrence obsesses over such events as the Chernobyl disaster while Roland confronts the lingering impact of Miriam's abuse and Alissa's sudden reappearance. Alissa then publishes a bestselling (and specious) memoir, which isn't so nice on Roland. 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, such as the scene of Roland's father's funeral: "A thin teenage girl in a tight black trouser suit opened the door of the undertakers and made a formal nod as he entered." Once more, the masterly McEwan delights. (Sept.)

Copyright 2022 Publishers Weekly.

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