I haven't read the print book but the audible version was fantastic! The lovely voice of Juliet Stevenson added to the beautiful prose of Ian McEwan... can't think of a better combination. Pure music.
The end. I was prepared to be sad by the ending but now I have hope. Wish he would write a sequel but that would probably be disappointing.
Definitely the female lead. (Already I've lost her name). Sympathetic, empathetic and believable. I would have had a hard time with the decisions too.
This is a spy novel like Hershey's is fine chocolate--okay, but a pale imitation of the real thing.
It was gimmicky, like the middle school game where one child asks another a series of questions with one-word answers, then makes up a story that incorporates all the words. Maybe it makes sense, maybe not. But everything that happens--even seemingly irrelevant details-- show up in the end.
The best parts were the short stories that Tom wrote--and be sure to pay attention, because like everything else, they will show up in the end.
Oddly, the book wasn't boring, even though all the main characters were boring and unlikeable (except for Shirley, who was a hoot.). Once I realized that there was no "there" there, I stopped waiting for anything substantial to happen and just listened to the narrative. This was actually pleasant, since the writing flowed well and the narrator was excellent.
Every book doesn't have to be a great book--and this certainly isn't. But if you quickly give up that expectation, it's a good read--like a Hershey's bar.
It's not until the final chapter that you realize just how cleverly this plot is constructed.
What seems like a simple storyline turns itself inside out in the final pages. McEwan populates 1970s London with flawed, relatable characters, all more than a little self absorbed.
My only reservation lies in a few passages that become overly introspective and drag down the narrative. But even that is redeemed by insightful social commentary on the cold war era and the social and economic chaos of the period. It's a compulsive read I was sorry to finish.
This audiobook was compelling, riveting, beautifully written, and expertly narrated. It is an intriguing tour-de-force. I highly recommend it.
Love a good mystery, but don't care much for pure thrillers.
As usual, McEwan makes great use of language, however, this book is short on plot. He has about enough material for a novella, a story about half as long. The protagonist and narrator, Serena, is not stupid nor intellectually shallow, but she continually defines herself by whatever man she happens to have latched on to. The story goes through a succession of her lovers but focuses primarily on an author and poet. It is hard to understand why he loves her. I'm not saying there are not people like Serena, but I don't find their story or plight interesting. The story drags with long asides and excursions. I cannot say more without spoiling the plot, but I found the way in which the ending is handled really lame--a real cop-out by McEwan.
Ian McEwan is always worth reading, and Juliet Stevenson is perfect - gets the tone just right. While not quite the same calibre as Atonement or Amsterdam, Sweet Tooth is full of wonderful prose.
The way the story comes full circle at the end, back to the imagination of the writer.
I really liked the note of innocence that her reading brings to Serena's story.
While Serena Frome is the pivotal character, she is propped up by others, especially Shirley and Tom. Max was the least successful character, and his not quite convincing role is the one weakness in an otherwise tight story.
Literature adds to reality, it does not simply describe it. C.S. Lewis
When the summary mentions MI5 in the early 70's, I think of the generation that lived in fear of repeating Burgess and the Cambridge spy ring. The generation that came after Peter Wright, after George Smiley.
McEwan makes references to this generation of brinksmanship, but it is just name dropping. This is not the spy novel I expected; this is part sappy love story and part a writer's description of his introversion.
The heroine is talented at describing her sexual needs and experiences, a talent which may in turn represent her generation. These depictions guarantee that readers will stay with the book through the slow sections.
I enjoyed the portrayal of daily life in England at a time of crisis. McEwan is a good writer, but Stevenson is a more talented narrator.
"Sweet Tooth" is a good book, but not the book I expected, so I was disappointed.
Say something about yourself!
I came close to abandoning Sweet Tooth at about the two thirds mark. On the surface, Ian McEwan's Serena Frome is yet another poorly crafted unreliable narrator from the UK's literary in-crowd, but well- it's Ian McEwan so I stuck with it. I suspected the discussion of various 'literary tricks' (Serena's term, not mine) peppered throughout the novel would eventually be applied to this tale of espionage, literature, love and naivete.
I was not disappointed: not really. Those literary discussions do indeed telegraph to the the reader what's really going on: it’s all very clever and exquisitely crafted with not a stitch dropped, a superfluous word or clue misplaced in this literary mystery.
The problem is Serena. My mind accompanied Juliet Stevenson's superb reading of Sweet Tooth with a constant harangue of “what a TWIT!”. In the end, the reader is made privy to the reasons for Serena's utter twitiness, but in order to get there, one suffers through her entire banal, twitty narrative. McEwan made one mistake, holding himself back too much with that voice: he seems to have forgotten the reader in all his clever construction. That one mistake prevents Sweet Tooth from being a masterpiece.
Impressed as I was with Sweet Tooth, the reader has to work too hard to arrive at a resolution to the mystery of Serena Frome.
I did not find his main character, Serena Frome, very believable or sympathetic. It is not clear why the main male character is so smitten with her, nor she with him. By the end u learn that the whole story has been a rather elaborate conceit, which makes for a clever twist on the part of the author--but doesn't make me care any more about the characters.
The setting in MI-5 sounds more intriguing than it turns out to be. I would consider that perhaps MacEwan is resting on his laurels, altho I read that this and ATONEMENT are his personal favorites among his novels thus far. I also read that it is being made into a movie--this may be one of those stories that can come to life on the screen in a way that it did not in print.
This audio version also suffered from an uninspired performance by the narrator.
The NPR reviewer, Maureen Corrigan, did a short review on the program Fresh Air that aptly articulated for me my problems with this novel and I recommend it to anyone considering this book.