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.
I have read other McEwan's books and enjoyed them much more.
Found the book just dragged along and now, about a week later, can't even remember the ending.
I found no redeeming values of any kind in the main character. She was not interesting, and everything seemed to happen to her because of the men in her life, not because she had any initiative or talent that lead her to interesting things. I actually found the story to be a total bore. Performance was good.
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.
Well written and well read, this is an interesting story about a woman working for British Intelligence in the 1970s. McEwan does a good job of developing the characters and the story keeps you interested, but it is overall more about the literary device than about real plot. I enjoyed it, but was left wanting a bit more from the story.
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.
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'll be more cautious when chosing.
She was great, excellent job.
The ending was clever. It was a nice way to finish a boring story.
Our book club choose this book based on reviews, however, only 5 out of 12 of us were able to finish it.
The great thing about Audiobooks is that I put on my headphones and head out for a run and have to listen.
The main character was just dull. Not worth reading a book about.
The narrator read the main character as a bit haughty, rather than crafty and cunning. The narration might have worked better if the character hadn't seemed like such a naif.
If you liked Atonement, don't assume this will be enjoyable.
This is just a wonderful book. Ian McEwan takes us into a precise moment in history through the eyes of characters who are always tough to pin down. The novel is rich in detail and plays out through the eyes of a wonderful heroine. The narrator does a great job of capturing different voices for the main characters. I truly loved this book and highly recommend it.