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
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.
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.
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.....
Smoke and Mirrors
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.
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.
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)
Hard to judge with the material she had to work with- yawn.
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.
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.
Yes. Great story with fantastic characters and plot.
From start to finish it was enthralling
Everything...so incredibly well read
One of the best stories for 2012!
There is no real story, no excitement, just boring...
I found it hard to finish the book and would not recommend it. Absolutely boring!
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.
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.
No. I want to hear more of her audiobooks.
Max. He is not in the story that much but you can feel his influence and presence throughout.
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.
First audiobook have listened to; I will now read another
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.
Juliet Stevenson takes the part of the narrator and matches her perfectly with just the right accent, age, and expression.
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.
This was my first audiobook and I am sold! I downloaded another the moment this one was finished.
Addicted to Audible.
OMG the story was tedious and boring! It felt like it was not going anywhere and even the end wasn't exciting.
The whole story was disappointing..
All of them! it was so long and boring!
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.
"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
"Excellently written; well told"
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.
The inclusion of the Three Door puzzle did seem a bit contrived and out of place.
"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!
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.
"A great listen"
I have not read the print version of this but have read the print version of other books by Ian Mcewan
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
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.
I appreciate the depth of characterisation explored.
I found the story slow and uneventful. I just kept waiting and waiting for it to get started.
I enjoyed the narrator's soothing, well-spoken voice.
I was rather disappointed really. A good concept but painfully drawn out.
Credibility is hard to maintain and this novel grows ever more unlikely, precious and unloveable with every page.
Juliet Stevenson's matter of fact story telling is wonderful. She inhabits the Serena character, sexy, intelligent, its just brilliant
Lots of twists , I had no idea where it was going and did not expect the ending.
"Slow moving but well worth reading"
I spent alot of the book wondering when we would get there but as I carried on I felt I enjoyed the journey and once you get to the end the middle bit makes more sense so dont give up on it and stay to the end
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