We read this as part of our book club and found it disappointing. It wasn't a bad book, but you found yourself often wanting the characters to be better, the plot to be much tighter, and the whole concept less vanilla. It's a sort of twist on spy novel and romance that didn't quite work for me or the other book club members. In my listen, I kept on waiting for something to happen. Not a bad book, just not great.
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.
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.
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.
I enjoy mysteries, NOT thrillers, contemporary fiction, especially about diverse cultures, and sometimes history, if it doesn't involve too many dates. I often listen to a book multiple times, discovering unnoticed details in the retelling.
No. The characters are pretty flat and some seem without souls.
Okay for material.
It got me through some housework, having nothing better to listen to.
I'm finished with this author.
Usually like his stuff. Wasn't that interesting for a lot of reasons. Silly main character, end twist not that amazing, somewhat contrived.
Monotonous at times
Maybe next time.
I was very disappointed with this book and had to force myself to finish it. It seemed to go on interminably. Finally, about the last quarter (or less) of the story, my interest in the characters and plot line picked up. Still, for me, it was a waste of my time on a very contrived, unmemorable and uninteresting story that was billed as a "mystery." It was a mystery why it took sooooo long to get to anything remotely like real intrigue. It just plodded along at a snail's pace as did the narrator. Perhaps because I found the story so boring, it seemed that the narrator was reading extra slowly and flatly. Most likely, she was trying to portray the bland and blase nature of the character, but it just seemed dull to me.