The mesmerising new novel from Ian McEwan, the bestselling author of Atonement. The world is forever changing. But for so many of us, old wounds run deep. Lessons is an intimate yet universal story of love, regret and a restless search for answers.
Lessons is deep and wide, ambitious and humble, wise and substantial… McEwan’s best novel in 20 years’ New Statesman
‘Superb… A wonderful author has delivered another mesmerising, memorable novel’ Independent
‘Lessons triumphantly achieves its primary aim of conveying the “commonplace and wondrous” intertwining of global history and everyday life’ Daily Telegraph
While the world is still counting the cost of the Second World War and the Iron Curtain has descended, young Roland Baines’s life is turned upside down. Stranded at boarding school, his vulnerability attracts his piano teacher, Miriam Cornell, leaving scars as well as a memory of love that will never fade.
Twenty-five years later, as the radiation from the Chernobyl disaster spreads across Europe, Roland’s wife mysteriously vanishes and he is forced to confront the reality of his rootless existence and look for answers in his family history.
From the fall of the Berlin Wall to the Covid pandemic and climate change, Roland sometimes rides with the tide of history but more often struggles against it. Haunted by lost opportunities, he seeks solace through every possible means — literature, travel, friendship, drugs, politics, sex and love.
His journey raises important questions. Can we take full charge of the course of our lives without damage to others? How do global events beyond our control shape us and our memories? What role do chance and contingency play in our existence? And what can we learn from the traumas of the past?