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Solar Audiobook

Solar

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Audible Editor Reviews

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

Publisher's Summary

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

What the Critics Say

"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)

What Members Say

Average Customer Rating

3.6 (379 )
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3.8 (187 )
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4.1 (185 )
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Performance
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  •  
    R porter Santa Cruz, CA, United States 04-23-13
    R porter Santa Cruz, CA, United States 04-23-13 Member Since 2016
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    "Masterful writing performed by terrific reader"
    If you could sum up Solar in three words, what would they be?

    Scientist cuts corners to get his way, personally and professionally


    What other book might you compare Solar to and why?

    none


    Which character – as performed by Roger Allam and Ian McEwan – was your favorite?

    protagonist


    Any additional comments?

    Combines best of British literature with an equally good reading

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    MG Albuquerque, NM, United States 03-23-13
    MG Albuquerque, NM, United States 03-23-13 Member Since 2008
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    "I did not enjoy this book"

    I didn't find this book funny or interesting. It is a book in which nothing happens, no suspense is built, and has no likeable characters. I didn't crack a smile - maybe I just missed the whole point. I forced myself to listen to the end hoping to find something to redeem my time and credits, but found nothing.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Michael Ithaca, NY, United States 09-25-12
    Michael Ithaca, NY, United States 09-25-12

    Physicist

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    "+1 overall in light of tech company patent wars"
    If you could sum up Solar in three words, what would they be?

    Science, Patents, Technology


    What was your reaction to the ending? (No spoilers please!)

    Made everything clear. Be sure to listen to interview with the author.


    What about Roger Allam and Ian McEwan ’s performance did you like?

    Roger Allam is a native Britian. In the story he throws on an American accent for some characters. The result is interesting and laudible.


    If you could rename Solar, what would you call it?

    Squander


    Any additional comments?

    This story depicts how a technological solution to climate change is squandered by the character flaws of its inventor, the greed of others, and the unfortunate consequences of patent law. This story reminds me of the patent wars between the big tech companies.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Miguel Cheswick, PA, US 09-09-12
    Miguel Cheswick, PA, US 09-09-12 Member Since 2012
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    "Science, sex, lies, fame, humanity."
    What did you love best about Solar?

    Excellent scientific documentation. Good plot, with real-like characters. History has value as a current issue.


    What was one of the most memorable moments of Solar?

    When the main character, Michael Beard, decides to change the situation of the accidental death of his wife's lover into a murder committed by his other wife's lover.


    What about Roger Allam and Ian McEwan ’s performance did you like?

    Excellent!


    If you were to make a film of this book, what would be the tag line be?

    Nobel prize winers are only too human...


    Any additional comments?

    It reminded me of two other books: "The Prize", by Irving Wallace", and "Cantor's dilemma", by Carl Djerassi. Both of them, excellent and also highly recommendable

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Roswatheist Dexter, New Mexico, United States 06-23-12
    Roswatheist Dexter, New Mexico, United States 06-23-12 Member Since 2014
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    "The Funniest Intelligent Read Since THHG"
    Would you listen to Solar again? Why?

    I will definitely listen to Solar again. The protagonist is so brilliantly written, that while I'd hate him in real life, I can still sympathize with him.


    What other book might you compare Solar to and why?

    The Hitchhiker's Guide To the Galaxy comes instantly to mind, since it's funny and you don't feel like an idiot when you close it on the last page.


    Which character – as performed by Roger Allam and Ian McEwan – was your favorite?

    Beard


    If you could take any character from Solar out to dinner, who would it be and why?

    I'd take Beard out-sounds like a fun drinking companion.


    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Anne K Montana 02-26-12
    Anne K Montana 02-26-12 Member Since 2016
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    "Literary Feast"

    Being enveloped in McEwan's witty and exquisite prose, beautifully narrated by Roger Allam, was luxurious. I'm glad I bought the audio version of this book. I thoroughly enjoyed Beard: what skill this author has, to draw a very flawed character so forgivingly and make him sympathetic. I loved the "set pieces", too (the ice story, and the packet of crisps). I have not enjoyed a work of literary fiction this much for ages! By the way, I am English: maybe that helps to tune in to the humor and style. Can't wait to see what my American husband thinks of it - he doesn't usually "get" British humor.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Thomas J. Hart Bethesda, MD, US 04-16-11
    Thomas J. Hart Bethesda, MD, US 04-16-11 Member Since 2016
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    ""Comic" Novel About an Unappealing Scientist"

    I find it very difficult to summarize my views about this book. McEwan is a superb writer; the prose in this novel is up to his usual stellar standards. There are some utterly brilliant set piece scenes. Yet, although McEwan apparrently considers this book, which looks at the life and machinations of a brilliant narcissistic scientist years after his most productive period, to be "comic," I found it impossible care a fig about a man who is as self-absorbed and oblivious to the needs and feelings of others (except to the extent they affect him) as his protagonist. I guess I'm glad I "read" it; but I felt the need to take a shower afterwards.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Sarah Kate CT 01-18-11
    Sarah Kate CT 01-18-11 Listener Since 2008
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    "Hilarious and dark, dark, dark"

    The flip side of Solar is the dark character of the 'hero.' I loved this book, far more than previous McEwan offerings. He perfectly captures the nasty points of sexist male academics. The crisp scene on the train made me laugh aloud. Just a wonderful listen, but maybe not one if happy fluffy stories are your kind of thing. Some of the humor may also appeal to my British and academic sides (I'm both). Great narration too.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Ed Burgess 04-18-10
    Ed Burgess 04-18-10 Member Since 2011
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    "I don't get it"

    This is one of the worst audio books that I have ever listened to. I totally didn't get the comedy aspect of this book. To me it was a boring tale of a hedonistic man. I kept hoping that he would do something to redeam himself.

    2 of 6 people found this review helpful
  •  
    J Spike Gillespie 06-21-11 Member Since 2015
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    "Stunning"

    This is the best book I have ever read. Unbelievable. Not saying anymore-- don't want to let slip any spoilers. You should buy it today and listen to the entire thing as a whole. Absolutely stunning.

    0 of 1 people found this review helpful

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