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)
Scientist cuts corners to get his way, personally and professionally
Combines best of British literature with an equally good reading
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.
Science, Patents, Technology
Made everything clear. Be sure to listen to interview with the author.
Roger Allam is a native Britian. In the story he throws on an American accent for some characters. The result is interesting and laudible.
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.
Excellent scientific documentation. Good plot, with real-like characters. History has value as a current issue.
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.
Nobel prize winers are only too human...
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
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.
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.
I'd take Beard out-sounds like a fun drinking companion.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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