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)
Very funny, but the guy is so hateful, you can't even pity him. My favorite is still "Saturday." This book is for serious fans, and I'm one.
This book was boring. It never went anywhere interesting. Funny, it was not - the main character is a pathetic, egocentric, looser that ruins women's lives is not funny. A waste of money.
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.
Though not quite as splendid as Atonement or On Chesil Beach I much appreciated the author's humor in drawing the character of Michael Beard. The story was followed by an excellent interview with McEwan which told much about his writing process and enhanced my appreciation after having read the book. I will most certainly read more of McEwan's works! Roger alum's reading playeda large part of my enjoyment
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.
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