Some people deserve everything horrible that happens to them. Michael Beard is definitely one of those people. Booker prize-winner Ian McEwan (Atonement, Saturday) has created the self-centered, loathsome character of Beard for his latest satirical novel, Solar, but you don’t really get the full effect of Beard’s appalling narcissism unless you listen to Roger Allam’s performance of the book.
Allam has one of those precise, slightly-condescending, upper-crust English accents that perfectly suits Beard’s character. You can clearly imagine Beard looking down his nose at everything the mere mortals around him say or do as Allam intones McEwan’s carefully chosen words. An award-winning stage actor who has also appeared in dozens of movies (The Queen, V for Vendetta) and television dramas, Allam specializes in portraying authoritative men with commanding stage presences. And like any great actor, Allam also manages to make us feel sympathetic for Beard a pompous, adulterous, Nobel Prize-winning physicist despite his monumental character flaws.
Without giving too much of the book’s ingenious plot away, Solar revolves around Beard’s marital troubles and his quest to discover an alternative energy source. Sounds noble on the surface, but Beard only really seems to care about finding a fashionable subject to research…while receiving a lucrative, six-figure paycheck for doing as little work as possible. The book may seem to jump at times from one location to the next, but McEwan weaves all the plotlines together in the final, brilliant chapter, set in the New Mexico desert. In the end, Beard and patient listeners are justly rewarded by McEwan in his latest, most amusing novel to date. Ken Ross
Universally acclaimed as one of the world’s greatest novelists, Ian McEwan is a Booker Prize-winning, best-selling literary master. He displays a fresh facet of his considerable talent in Solar, a satirical novel rife with blistering humor.
Nobel Prize-winning physicist Michael Beard is fast approaching 60, a mere shell of the academic titan he once was. While his fifth marriage falls apart, Michael suddenly finds himself with an unexpected opportunity to reinvigorate his career and possibly save humankind from the growing threat of global warming.
This audio includes an exclusive interview with the author.
©2010 Ian McEwan (P)2010 Recorded Books, LLC
"A comedy every bit as brilliant as its title might suggest....Blazing with imaginative and intellectual energy, Solar is a stellar performance." (Sunday Times, London)
“A stunningly accomplished work, possibly [McEwan’s] best yet.” (Financial Times)
Business Physicist and Astronomer
This is a very funny and odd book. You have to pay attention to catch the humor and stay on track. If you make a little effort, you'll get some great laughs and hear some very interesting points.
As both a solar astronomer and someone who works in the solar industry, I really enjoyed the book.
One caution. The humor is dry and not for everyone.
I tried. I really tried to like this book, but just couldn't find any redeeming characteristics. Didn't like the characters, the plot, nor the narrator. Maybe it just didn't lend itself well as an audiobook. Can't understand the rave reviews from critics. I have never deleted an audiobook before, but I finally got so fed up I just couldn't take it anymore and did just that. Felt pretty good, I must say.
Narrator does a great job with it, frequently laugh out loud funny. The protagonist is fairly despicable--you have to be willing to spend a lot of time with a raving egotist (but eventually everything catches up with him). McEwan can get bogged down in the science, which is the novel's main fault.
The written version may have been better, but I seriously doubt it. An endless connection, or disconnection, of metaphors and painful detail about a very boring protagonist in a failed attempt at humor.
This is very slow moving book. It purports to be witty and humerus? However, the humor is juvenile and in most cases not very funny. I would recommend you save your money and buy another book.
Loved this book. Played it again for my husband on a road trip. Laughing so hard during the "dressing for the cold" scene, we had to pull off the road. Comic masterpiece and profound satire is SOLAR.
I don't know the last time I doubled over laughing while listening to a book. The main character is an utterly despicable anti-hero who just stumbles from one hilarious, self-inflicted disaster to another. I noticed there are a lot of negative reviews, and I was trying to figure out why. If you are easily bored by physics, or not familiar with the academic/scientific/tech world, it may not be for you. That's the only thing I can think of, because I really thought it was one of the best things I've read/heard this year.
In USA? College degrees required to enjoy this read, hedge fund managers and those of an entrepreneurial bent should find revealing. Anyone booking academic lecture series, this is required reading. No, really. In UK? Everyone. Even footballer's wives (whllst getting nails done). Salman Rusdie probably sleeps with it under his pillow.
Patrice, now that I think of it, her of the red-lipped, scented Friday night departures. "Why" would be giving too much away. And McEwan wrote a memorable and alarmingly accurate Darlene, brief yet ripe and potent. Oh, rats. I have to say the Professor. He's so ... words fail. I really do refuse to "reveal" the plot as the reveal in this particular book is all. Fascinated, compelling, horrorfied, while laughing so hard my bike almost hurled off road.
No. Mr Allam and his mellow tones are new to me and gosh, I thought for the longest time the narrator was Michael Gambon! Dead ringer! Brilliant narration; spot on. My fellow 'murricans may be lost ("euw, he had this weird accent,,,") but the UK crowd will lap his narration up like double cream on rhubarb crumble. And quite right, too.
Well, the Professor proves memorable in his ability to live a 100% selfish life unadulturated by concern, care, interest or compassion for either a single living being once they have served whatever purpose he has momentarily brought them into his life, or, our strife-ridden planet. The spotlight (I hesitate to say 'sunlight') is all on the Professor, so, shuddering slightly, he wins by default.
Not for the faint of literary heart nor anyone whose lips move whilst reading Danielle Steel. Yet for anyone who marvels at the intricacies and imaginative miracles wrought by masterful Ian McEwan's astonishing and witty pen. Er, keyboard. Descriptions, travels, narrations, observations, speeches, dialogue .... it's all there, the vast wealth of the English language in every single line and this delightful writers assists me to see it anew.
Scientist cuts corners to get his way, personally and professionally
Combines best of British literature with an equally good reading
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