Read: Lessons by Ian McEwan

The focus on piano lessons is what initially drew me to this book. I “read” Lessons via Audible over the course of a few weeks, with many of those listening sessions happening late at night (alongside some bouts of insomnia). I really like the style of Ian McEwan’s writing, and this book delivered on that front. I also liked the story arc (is that a word) of this book, as it navigated many different historical timeframes and events (fall of the Berlin wall, Cuban Missile Crisis, Covid pandemic, etc). Roland, the main character/protagonist, is relatable in certain ways, and I’d say the parts of the book that stood out the most for me were those that delved into struggles with his inner demons combined with his perspectives and realizations across the different seasons of life.

Lessons by Ian McEwan
“Lessons” by Ian McEwan


Instead of reading notes (which are more suited for non-fiction) I’ll instead share my “summary” in a few paragraphs:

Overall, McEwan’s “Lessons” is a captivating novel that explores the depths of human despair and identity. The story follows an unexpected friendship between two people, a young boy and his eccentric piano teacher, that slowly unravels as secrets of their past come to light. The story unfolds across all seasons of life for the main characters, with many twists and turns (which mostly kept my interest). The compelling narrative conveys complex emotions of love, loss, guilt and shame.

A powerful combination of realism in the characters’ interactions is punctuated with sharp wit makes for an evocative read/listen. As I followed along with Roland’s journey, I was also brought face-to-face with many of my own innermost thoughts and emotions.

As with most McEwan books I’ve read, this one too evoked emotions like sorrow and pain alongside joy and pleasure – a testament to how good writing can capture both heart and mind.

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