(As I write this entry, and as far as I know, this book hasn't been translated to Spanish, so my review comes in English. It's not an easy book to read if you have an low-intermediate level, but it's perfect if your reading comprehension in English is very good or you need to practice to get your C1 or C2.)
Sometimes you can't tell a book is good (or, simply, that you like it) until a few pages in, when the story grips you and won't let you go, and you have to steal hours to the night so you can keep reading it. Other times, the book shows its quality from the very first page and you fall in love with it right from the beginning. The Children Act belongs to the latter. I was completely hooked on its prose with the first few sentences, even though it starts with a description and that's supposed to be a big no-no (of course, if you are Ian McEwan you can do whatever you want because you know how to do it right):
London. Trinity term one week old. Implacable June weather. Fiona Maye, a High Court judge, at home on Sunday evening, supine on a chaise longue, staring past her stockinged feet towards the end of the room, towards a partial view of recessed bookshelves by the fireplace and, to one side, by a tall window, a tiny Renoir lithograph of a bather, bought by her thirty years ago for fifty pounds. Probably a fake. (...)
Look at those first three sentences. Not a single verb in them, nine words in all, and we already have the setting. Masterful.
This was my first contact with the book, because I bought it on a whim and I didn't even know what it was about. McEwan is one of my favorite writers, so I try to get my hands on everything he publishes. (I do the same with Zadie Smith, Jeffrey Eugenides and J.K. Rowling, with mixed results so far.) In this case it was a story of ethics, morals, the tough job of being a judge (and a female one, at that), and what it really means to decide the fate of the people to come to her for help. All dressed up in a package that looks like a love story (or, more correctly, a break-up story) that turns out to be nothing more (and nothing less) than a beautiful shroud with which to tie everything up.
Jack, Fiona Maye's husband, sixty years old and a university professor, asks his wife for permission to have an affair with a much younger woman. Fiona cannot believe what he is proposing (he just wants to have a fling, not break the marriage) and refuses, but he goes on with it nonetheless. And just when the reader expects to find yet another story of a woman abandoned by a mean, hateful husband, McEwan turns the story around and concentrates on one of the cases she has: a doctor asks for her help to save a seventeen-year-old Jehovah witness who is refusing treatment on religious reasons. In little more than 200 pages, the author writes about morals, the strength of religion and community, personal believes versus human rights, and yes, a little bit about love and what it means to have your husband cheat on you when you are entering old age. Everything from the perspective of a female character so well constructed that is hard to believe it wasn't written by a woman.
Needless to say, this book gets my highest praise, as does everything I've read by this man (not much, I admit: Nutshell and Atonement, which are both masterpieces). If your English is not good enough, I advise you to keep an eye out for the translation, because this book is worth reading. My copy is going straight to the pile of "must re-read" that is already taking up more space than the "new to read" one.