Less ambitious authors would be content to dedicate their novel to the immediate premise of The Child in Time: the loss of a family's innocence and its hopes for recovery after the theft of a child. McEwan works here as he does in later, more widely known novels, with layered presentations of theme and a greater effort to explore the loss of childhood to those stolen into adulthood, and how parents are often stolen from their own lives by childbirth. The decision to have a child becomes significant, and there are suggestions, more optimistic here, of the later novel, [book: On Chesil Beach], where the consequences of action (or inactivity) on later life are explored.McEwan writes beautifully of the awe in which children hold their parents, and of adults' recognition of individuality within their children.If you read this expecting a book of loss and recovery, I think you may miss the point: that life is ultimately defined by action over regret; and that there is no real recovery from loss every moment stolen. The novel is as touching in portraying its adult relationships as it is those between parent and child. A beautiful, complicated book that seeks to broaden its scope beyond the modern thirst for lives full of simply characterized regrets.