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Sweet Tooth | [Ian McEwan]

Sweet Tooth

Serena Frome, the beautiful daughter of an Anglican bishop, has a brief affair with an older man during her final year at Cambridge, and finds herself being groomed for the intelligence services. The year is 1972. Britain, confronting economic disaster, is being torn apart by industrial unrest and terrorism and faces its fifth state of emergency.
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Publisher's Summary

Serena Frome, the beautiful daughter of an Anglican bishop, has a brief affair with an older man during her final year at Cambridge and finds herself being groomed for the intelligence services. The year is 1972. Britain, confronting economic disaster, is being torn apart by industrial unrest and terrorism and faces its fifth state of emergency. The Cold War has entered a moribund phase, but the fight goes on, especially in the cultural sphere.

Serena, a compulsive reader of novels, is sent on a ‘secret mission’ that brings her into the literary world of Tom Haley, a promising young writer. First she loves his stories; then she begins to love the man. Can she maintain the fiction of her undercover life? And who is inventing whom? To answer these questions, Serena must abandon the first rule of espionage – trust no one.

McEwan’s mastery dazzles us in this superbly deft and witty story of betrayal and intrigue, love, and the invented self.

©2012 Ian McEwan (P)2012 Random House Audiobooks

What Members Say

Average Customer Rating

3.6 (120 )
5 star
 (28)
4 star
 (49)
3 star
 (22)
2 star
 (11)
1 star
 (10)
Overall
3.5 (103 )
5 star
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4 star
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3 star
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2 star
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1 star
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Story
4.0 (105 )
5 star
 (32)
4 star
 (47)
3 star
 (20)
2 star
 (5)
1 star
 (1)
Performance
Sort by:
  •  
    Jenny Woodlands, Australia 01-04-13
    Jenny Woodlands, Australia 01-04-13 Member Since 2012
    HELPFUL VOTES
    9
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    30
    28
    FOLLOWERS
    FOLLOWING
    1
    1
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "The Sting in the Tale"
    Would you listen to Sweet Tooth again? Why?

    Definitely. The story is very good as one listens along, and then, in the final chapter, the entire premise is upended and the reader has to try to regain their perspective on the characters and the events.A 2nd or 3rd listening, having the surprise ending known will make the experience entirely different and, in a new way, just as remarkable.


    What other book might you compare Sweet Tooth to and why?

    Immediately prior to listening to Sweet Tooth, I listened to John Le Carre's 'A Perfect Spy'. This is another spy story involving MI5 and its machinations. It also sets the individual into the complexity of a highly regulated secret organisation. And it also has a sting in the tail....But from there the stories diverge. It is the way each one explores similar things and comes up with a variety of scenarios that give the reader an opportunity to think about their own secret lives.


    Which character – as performed by Juliet Stevenson – was your favorite?

    The narrator, as performed by JS, is the star of the book. But who is the narrator? Well. that is the Sting in the Tale.....


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

    Smoke and Mirrors


    Any additional comments?

    Once again JS excels in her reading of the book. She is a joy to listen to and characters come to vivid life with her deft touch.Ian McEwan is one of the finest writers in English. Every one of his books is different, yet the astute reader can sense the connections between them. His characters live and his descriptions bring the scene to the reader so well.

    By the way - I have used both spellings of tale/tail quite deliberately.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Lynda Yarrawonga, Australia 01-04-13
    Lynda Yarrawonga, Australia 01-04-13 Member Since 2012
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    4
    4
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Story about a public servant.yawn"
    This book wasn’t for you, but who do you think might enjoy it more?

    Not a title I would recommend. For spy fans there is no mystery or espionage. Would recommend if you like books with no drama, intrigue.


    What could Ian McEwan have done to make this a more enjoyable book for you?

    Add some drama, add some colour to this grey and drab story. Because the rest of the story was so nondescript, he could have added more believable lovers for this supposedly beautiful woman. Old, gay and physically unattractive seemed to be her preferred choice. The story was OK - but a bit Margaret Drabble like (who by the way I finding boring)


    What three words best describe Juliet Stevenson’s performance?

    Hard to judge with the material she had to work with- yawn.


    If you could play editor, what scene or scenes would you have cut from Sweet Tooth?

    I really could not get into this story, I did try, really I did, but I would have vetoed the whole book when it first hit my editors desk.


    Any additional comments?

    Sometimes it is not about the destination but the journey, this book unfortunately didn't leave the station, you sit on board waiting for the train to move and it never starts. It is hard for me to find a book or genre that I can't get into, but this book despite the good reviews was one I could not get my Sweet Tooth into.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Wendy BELLINGEN, Australia 12-31-12
    Wendy BELLINGEN, Australia 12-31-12 Member Since 2007
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    40
    2
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Fabulous"
    Would you recommend this audiobook to a friend? If so, why?

    Yes. Great story with fantastic characters and plot.


    What did you like best about this story?

    From start to finish it was enthralling


    What about Juliet Stevenson’s performance did you like?

    Everything...so incredibly well read


    Any additional comments?

    One of the best stories for 2012!

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Katharina South Fremantle, Australia 12-06-12
    Katharina South Fremantle, Australia 12-06-12
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    4
    4
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "What's the story??"
    What disappointed you about Sweet Tooth?

    There is no real story, no excitement, just boring...
    I found it hard to finish the book and would not recommend it. Absolutely boring!


    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    hfrances California usa 11-27-12
    hfrances California usa 11-27-12 Member Since 2012
    HELPFUL VOTES
    2
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    8
    7
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    FOLLOWING
    0
    0
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    Performance
    Story
    "Word perfect."
    What did you love best about Sweet Tooth?

    I loved the narrative voice. The author describes his characters so clearly that you can picture every wrinkle and every pore. His descriptions of London and life within MI5 seemed very real. I wanted to be in that world visiting pubs, strolling around London and the Brighton seafront.


    What did you like best about this story?

    I loved the intrigue and the fact that the ending surprised me. The heroine is being deceitful but I could imagine making the same choices. To me, it was word perfect. No words were wasted and every one was needed. The letter ending the book is just the most beautiful piece of prose.


    Have you listened to any of Juliet Stevenson’s other performances before? How does this one compare?

    No. I want to hear more of her audiobooks.


    Who was the most memorable character of Sweet Tooth and why?

    Max. He is not in the story that much but you can feel his influence and presence throughout.


    Any additional comments?

    One of the best books I have read in a long time. Only books like Cutting for Stone or The Secret History come close to such evocative descriptions and compelling characters.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Dr Mark Selikowitz Sydney, Australia 11-17-12
    Dr Mark Selikowitz Sydney, Australia 11-17-12
    HELPFUL VOTES
    2
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    2
    2
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    FOLLOWING
    0
    0
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    Story
    "Beautifully written, perfect reading."
    Where does Sweet Tooth rank among all the audiobooks you’ve listened to so far?

    First audiobook have listened to; I will now read another


    What did you like best about this story?

    McEwan is such a clever writer and has a marvellous way with words. I found the book intriguing while I listened to it, and felt very satisfied when I had heard the conclusion. I also my eyes where opened to the way MI5 probably works.


    Which character – as performed by Juliet Stevenson – was your favorite?

    Juliet Stevenson takes the part of the narrator and matches her perfectly with just the right accent, age, and expression.


    Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?

    No, I listened to it in my car as I travelled to and from work (a 30 minute trip each way), which was perfect. I did however find myself sitting in the car for a few minutes after I had reached my destination, eager to hear more.


    Any additional comments?

    This was my first audiobook and I am sold! I downloaded another the moment this one was finished.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Lisa Faifield, Australia 08-09-13
    Lisa Faifield, Australia 08-09-13 Member Since 2011

    Addicted to Audible.

    HELPFUL VOTES
    4
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    57
    18
    FOLLOWERS
    FOLLOWING
    0
    0
    Overall
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    "DON'T BOTHER!"
    What would have made Sweet Tooth better?

    OMG the story was tedious and boring! It felt like it was not going anywhere and even the end wasn't exciting.


    What was most disappointing about Ian McEwan’s story?

    The whole story was disappointing..


    What character would you cut from Sweet Tooth?

    All of them! it was so long and boring!


    0 of 1 people found this review helpful
  • Showing: 11-17 of 17 results PREVIOUS12NEXT
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  • John
    Westhill, United Kingdom
    9/3/12
    Overall
    "A Disappointment"

    After all the media attention and author interviews, I was looking forward to this book as a return to form for Ian McEwan after the mediocre "Solar". There are some nice lines and apt phrasing but the characterisation is fairly shallow, the plot banal, almost a cliche, and the much trailed surprise ending is in effect a bolt-on narrative device that does little to save the novel. It may help to excuse the inadequate realisation of the first person, female narrator, but I think that responsibility lies with McEwan. Compelling, profound and fascinating it is not.

    If you want that in a recent novel, try "Waiting For Sunrise" by William Boyd: espionage, duplicity and self deception in a multi-layered novel of real interest. And he is a rattling good story teller.

    4 of 7 people found this review helpful
  • BillyBlackBear
    South Wales
    7/31/14
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Twisted Tale"

    This is a beautifully crafted tale which has a wonderful twist in its conclusion but also deals so well with human feelings and the struggle between duty and love.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Jonesy
    7/9/14
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Great listening!"
    If you could sum up Sweet Tooth in three words, what would they be?

    Interesting, observational, turmoil


    Who was your favorite character and why?

    Tom - complexity of character


    Which character – as performed by Juliet Stevenson – was your favourite?

    This was the first reading for me by a female performer. I thought she did a really good job of characterisation and her accents fitted the parts well.


    Was there a moment in the book that particularly moved you?

    Not a particular moment, the whole second half of the book!


    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • mrs
    Grantham, United Kingdom
    5/24/14
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Tedious"

    I only got so far with this book as I found it hard going and Juliet Stevenson did not help.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Ms
    Versoix, Switzerland
    5/5/14
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Let yourself be swayed along"
    Would you consider the audio edition of Sweet Tooth to be better than the print version?

    Have not read the print version


    What did you like best about this story?

    This story transports the listener into 1970s England and into the narrative. It will not revolutionise the history of literature but will take you along with it on a fun, poignant, at times unexpected journey.


    Which character – as performed by Juliet Stevenson – was your favourite?

    Serena: she is totally human, believeable, sincere.


    If you made a film of this book, what would be the tag line be?

    "The true face of M: the 007 that never was"


    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • AJ
    Nailsea, United Kingdom
    4/4/14
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Too clever to be entertaining"

    The story is complex and proceeds at a leisurely pace. Cruel I Know, but all I can say is thankyou to Juliet Stevenson for providing a captivating voice

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Roderic
    Victoria Park, Australia
    1/5/14
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Excellently written; well told"
    Where does Sweet Tooth rank among all the audiobooks you’ve listened to so far?

    It is on the top echelon. I have read all of Ian McEwan's earlier books and this one is also very well written. Juliet Stevenson, along with Anton Lesser, is my favourite narrator.


    Any additional comments?

    The inclusion of the Three Door puzzle did seem a bit contrived and out of place.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Louise
    London
    1/1/14
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Great book - thoroughly enjoyed it"

    This is an evocative book, sensitively written with an excellent portrayal of the main female character and her existence in a man's world. Set in the 1970's it tells the story of Serena, a spy working for the government during the Cold War. The references to life in England during the Thatcher era were fascinating and very insightful. The narration was fantastic and the excellent Juliet Stevenson narrated each character with ease and fluidity.

    There is a gripping plot line that keeps you listening and a couple of turns that you may not be expecting. Overall a thoroughly good listen!

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Elizabeth
    UK
    12/15/13
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Utterly engrossing"

    For me, this was an utterly engrossing novel. Since finishing the audiobook I've read a number of reviews praising and damning it. I am very glad I hadn't read the publisher's synopsis before embarking; I find it reveals just enough that it would have ruined aspects of the narrative development for me. I enjoyed spilling from one event to the next through Juliet Stevenson's masterful narration.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • rosemary
    ATTLEBOROUGH, United Kingdom
    12/13/13
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "A great listen"
    Would you consider the audio edition of Sweet Tooth to be better than the print version?

    I have not read the print version of this but have read the print version of other books by Ian Mcewan


    What did you like best about this story?

    This book is set in the 1970's, a time when I was young and growing up so I can relate to the young women in the book and the way that the work place has changed for women. Also this period could be a difficult and brutal time to be living in the UK as there was so much unrest and discontent, this is well portrayed in the book


    What about Juliet Stevenson’s performance did you like?

    Juliet Stevenson reads with a clear voice and brings the characters to life and is really easy to listen to, meaning that you can concentrate on the story and not on her voice.


    If you made a film of this book, what would be the tag line be?

    London 1972


    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Showing: 11-20 of 44 results PREVIOUS1235NEXT

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