Wednesday, 16 October 2013

Sweet Tooth by Ian McEwan

About the Book

Title: Sweet Tooth
Author: Ian McEwan
Publication: Jonathan Cape, London, 2012
Summary: The year is 1972. The Cold War is far from over. Britain is being torn apart by industrial unrest and terrorism. Serena Frome, in her final year at Cambridge, is being groomed for MI5. Serena is sent on a secret mission - Operation Sweet Tooth - which brings her into the world of Tom Haley, a promising young writer. First she loves his stories, then she begins to love the man. Can she maintain the fiction of her undercover life? And who is inventing whom? To answer these questions, Serena must abandon the first rule of espionage - trust no one. 



What I Think

The best thing about Ian McEwan's spy novel, Sweet Tooth, is the ending. The last line (I won't give the game away!) changes the whole feel, perspective and shape of the book. This is clever as there are virtually no clues along the way, yet it doesn't feel contrived, nor do you feel tricked. Hats off to McEwan for a little bit of genius. 

Having said all that I don't think this is his best book. I haven't read everything by McEwan, not by a long stretch, but I've read enough to know that some of his books I love (Atonement, Chesil Beach) and some I don't (Enduring Love). 

In the first paragraph he tells us the entire story. 

My name is Serena Frome (rhymes with plume) and almost forty years ago I was sent on a secret mission for the British security service. I didn't return safely. Within eighteen months of joining I was sacked, having disgraced myself and ruined my lover, though he certainly had a hand in his own undoing. 

This is a risk; a risk that the reader will switch off, or lose interest altogether. Or, hopefully, have the counter effect that you really want to know how it all unfolds. This was how I viewed it, although I have to say that Sweet Tooth was similar to Waiting for Sunrise (a book by William Boyd that I read recently) in the sense that the first half was mediocre and only the second half thrilling. Both Boyd and McEwan are great, highly-skilled authors and in both cases it was worth persevering, but I don't think that makes for a great book. Only a good one. 

About the Author




Ian McEwan is the author of two collections of stories and twelve previous novels, including Enduring Love, Amsterdam, for which he won the Booker Prize in 1998, Atonement and, most recently, Solar

8 comments:

  1. Hi Laura,
    I found you on Book Blogs. Cool site. I'm your newest follower! You can tag me back at http://adriennereiter.blogspot.com. Good connecting,
    Cheers!
    -A

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  2. Hi Laura,
    I saw you on book blogs. Nice too meet you. I followed you here. My blog URL is http://www.cluereview.blogspot.com. I'm looking forward to reading your post.

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    Replies
    1. Hi!
      Thanks so much for stopping by and following. I'm following your blog now too and looking forward to your posts.
      Laura

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  3. I like this cover.

    I'm a new follower from Book Blogs. Here's my blog if you want to check it out. http://kellyhashway.blogspot.com

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    Replies
    1. Thanks, Kelly! I'm following your blog now too :)

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  4. Hi! I enjoyed your review. The opening paragraph is very intriguing and is certainly a brave move on the part of the author. I assume Mr McEwan is probably hoping that the reader will be asking so many questions after having read the paragraph that they will continue reading to find answers. I am off to have a look around the rest of your blog.

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    Replies
    1. Hi Christopher,
      Thanks for reading and leaving a comment. I hope you enjoyed some other stuff on my blog :)

      Delete

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