"A great listen"
I don't normally write reviews but i really enjoyed this book. The main character was easily likable. It had a good pace, with gradual build towards a seemingly inevitable disaster that kept me hooked, making me carry on with the cleaning a bit longer to see what happens. A thought provoking plot. Well read too.
After all the media attention and author interviews, I was looking forward to this book as a return to form for Ian McEwan after the mediocre "Solar". There are some nice lines and apt phrasing but the characterisation is fairly shallow, the plot banal, almost a cliche, and the much trailed surprise ending is in effect a bolt-on narrative device that does little to save the novel. It may help to excuse the inadequate realisation of the first person, female narrator, but I think that responsibility lies with McEwan. Compelling, profound and fascinating it is not.
If you want that in a recent novel, try "Waiting For Sunrise" by William Boyd: espionage, duplicity and self deception in a multi-layered novel of real interest. And he is a rattling good story teller.
"Clever mixture of spy novel and literary analysis"
I loved the evocation of the 70s, with the backdrop of the 3-day week and the height of the Troubles. But the book is less about spying and more about writing. The main character's moral dilemma is both convincing in itself and a fine exploration of the nature of honesty. Excellent writing, by turns gripping, moving and philosophical.
"Superbly crafted and exquisitely narrated."
The late sixties early seventies experienced through the lives of interesting, young, bright, well educated characters. Gripping story. The narration by Juliet Stevenson was perfect.
Great story, very well presented and read beautifully. Love Ian McEwan's books, and this one does not disappoint :) will see what other audio books are available..
The long long scenes about books a character has written
This story meanders and crawls on with no real purpose. We are told from the outset that the protagonist gets sacked. And so you wait, and wait for something interesting to happen. You get taken down every dull grey alleyway at a depressing speed. I found it intolerable. I really do not understand why this story was rated so highly.
"Had a bit of sleep in the middle but overall great"
Certainly a book to make you think. More about relationships than a spy novel as I assumed, but really well presented characters. Well worth a listen!
"What a very entertaining book and believable"
I always enjoy an Ian McEwan books and as this was chosen for our book club choice I was very happy
Juliet Stephenson read it well I particularly enjoyed the characters and thought the retelling the life in the 70s was crucial
A great book and sad to have got to the end
"Curved plot saves dodgy characters"
The plot, rather than the characters. Nearly abandoned the book with disinterest in main protagonist until it turned towards the end.
the change in narrative voice of the book [i'm sure theses a literary word for it] which shifts the perspective and makes Tom Haley come over as a most interesting character than the passive, snobbish and thick Serena. [but of course as pretty posh totty he loves her rather than the potentially more interesting Shirley]. I was really curious about the fate of the educated working class woman - such a rare character in life and in novels - but she turned out a stock cockney and went nowhere - a literary device to forward 'real' middle class concerns.
Juliet Stevenson has a wonderful voice and she's great for the nuances of Jane Austen's characters in that narrow upperclass range of accents, but oh that awful stock BBC cockney with its glottal stops [so unlikely in an educated woman working class or not] nearly made me switch off and spoiled a potentially interesting character.
Yes. i listen to audiobooks to send me off to sleep. This one kept me awake esp. towards the end. I will be buying the hardcopy book as its definitely one to re-read [and try to forget Stevenson's cockney] and fill in the bits where i dozed off at the beginning and of course to enjoy McE's prose.
As i can't find many well written novels with educated working-class female characters [we all like to identify with someone like ourselves] i have to make do with the Anita Brookners or blokey campus-type novels. But that aside - Mc Ewan's characters have a psychological truth irrespective of gender and class that keep me coming back - for the time being.
"Really loved this"
I couldn't stop listening, it drew me in so much and was beautifully read. Will have to read and listen to more of his work.