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!
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.
"Curved plot saves dodgy characters"
The plot, rather than the characters. Nearly abandoned the book with disinterest in main protagonist until it turned towards the end.
the change in narrative voice of the book [i'm sure theses a literary word for it] which shifts the perspective and makes Tom Haley come over as a most interesting character than the passive, snobbish and thick Serena. [but of course as pretty posh totty he loves her rather than the potentially more interesting Shirley]. I was really curious about the fate of the educated working class woman - such a rare character in life and in novels - but she turned out a stock cockney and went nowhere - a literary device to forward 'real' middle class concerns.
Juliet Stevenson has a wonderful voice and she's great for the nuances of Jane Austen's characters in that narrow upperclass range of accents, but oh that awful stock BBC cockney with its glottal stops [so unlikely in an educated woman working class or not] nearly made me switch off and spoiled a potentially interesting character.
Yes. i listen to audiobooks to send me off to sleep. This one kept me awake esp. towards the end. I will be buying the hardcopy book as its definitely one to re-read [and try to forget Stevenson's cockney] and fill in the bits where i dozed off at the beginning and of course to enjoy McE's prose.
As i can't find many well written novels with educated working-class female characters [we all like to identify with someone like ourselves] i have to make do with the Anita Brookners or blokey campus-type novels. But that aside - Mc Ewan's characters have a psychological truth irrespective of gender and class that keep me coming back - for the time being.
"Power and deception in all its flavours."
We exercise soft power in the most mundane of acts in our lives with our children, with our lovers, at work and our friends. We deceive and are deceived with small white lies, big omissions and outright deception, the manipulation and manoeuvring never really stops it is why we care about the Joneses and why the Joneses care about what we do; they are the level the measure of our and their success. Countries do the same, and no areas of society are exempt, specially what is the soft power. The Beatles created more dissidents in the Soviet Union than any political manoeuvre could, and the soviets expended billions in developing athletes to demonstrate their physical superiority; one was a fluke of history the other a planned strategy. This book is about that dance de personal and the global. Men and women fight their sexual war, and countries strategies perception by the masses, both fields use deception, lies and manipulation and sometimes we get what we asked for, sometimes we miscalculate how the smaller game affects the larger game or vice versa.
The cold war and the struggles of the period are an excellent tableau to set this story in motion. Ian McEwan makes a well thought well executed plot shine in ways few could, excellent and twisted like humanity.
The reading was good and measured.
"Really loved this"
I couldn't stop listening, it drew me in so much and was beautifully read. Will have to read and listen to more of his work.
"enjoyable and surprising"
Surprising , engageing to the ladt chapter. Beautifully read with feeling and understanding.
I really don't know. Possibly a dedicated McEwan fan....
Generally the story was pretty weak particularly the ending. There were some points early in the story where the ending was obvious.
Not much really. The story was pretty weak. The narrator did her best in my opinion.
It will pass the time on commute to work.
The plot just didn't grab me, I bought this as it was an award winner and unfortunately I was bemused and amazed that it had won awards as a political thriller as it said very little about politics and the characters did not engage with me. It was a struggle getting through this
I'm a few hours into Sisterland and I'm already deeply engaged and looking forward to my next listen
The performance was fine, I think it was mostly the characters that did not engage me.
I would change the attitudes and drivers of the central characters, who I just didn't believe in
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.
Interesting, observational, turmoil
Tom - complexity of character
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.
Not a particular moment, the whole second half of the book!
I only got so far with this book as I found it hard going and Juliet Stevenson did not help.
There are no listener reviews for this title yet.
Report Inappropriate Content