Winner of such prestigious honors as the Booker Prize and Whitbread Award, Ian McEwan is justifiably regarded as a modern master. Set in 1972, Sweet Tooth follows Cambridge student Serena Frome, whose intelligence and beauty land her a job with England's intelligence agency, MI5. In an attempt to monitor writers' politics, MI5 tasks Serena with infiltrating the literary circle of author Tom Healy. But soon matters of trust and identity subvert the operation.
©2012 Ian McEwan (P)2012 Random House Audiobooks
It was a story about a woman that wanted everyone to like her. We needed to listen to her various sexcapades including short stories about everybody else's lives of misery written by the authors she was investigating.
I was looking for a good novel incorporating life in the 1970s with some of the mystery and suspense that you would anticipate from the British MI5's. This book did not even come close.
Juliet Stevenson read it so beautifully.
Serena Frume because she was so realistic in her reactions
Shirley Shilling - because Ms. Stevenson got her accent perfectly and imbued her with exactly the right touch of lower class brashness. Wonderful characterization.
That's a strange question! Who's Watching Whom? maybe.
This was a very cleverly written book. Masterful in fact. The appeal for me was that I am very familiar with all the locations having grown up in Sevenoaks (Tony's home town) and lived in Camden when I was at college in London. I totally "got" Serena and could picture exactly every scene. I also grew up in the 1970s and remember all the political shenanigans of the time - the strikes, the three-day week, etc. Marvellous book, nice twist, and expertly read.
Somehow the author and narrator combined to drain all life out of what would seem to be an engaging story. I could not get any emotional involvement in the main character, so I just didn't care what happened next. I don't really understand how this feat was accomplished. The story is a first person narrative, with the narrator recounting events forty years or so in the past. She seems so cool and detached, even when the action is emotional, that it gave me some kind of cognitive dissonance. Obviously, I am a reader that needs to relate to the characters to enjoy the book. The writing is very good and the narrator is also very good, I can understand that other people may find it excellent.
not from the Author, I can't condemn Ms. Stevenson based on one performance.
NO, this one was very slow and boring.
I don't think that would help.
I would recommend this book, but with reservations. McEwen is more of a John Donne rather than a William Shakespeare in that McEwen's intellectualism makes his work somewhat less organic. One marvels at his invention even as he exposes all of the inner mechanics. But it is as if McEwen wants to claim all of the glory for himself, which left me a bit cold at the end.
N/A - did not read print, only listened to audio
That it turned out much better than it began.
no, so N/A
Shirley Shilling; she was an interesting adjunct character, and I thought had a lot to offer. She would be intriguing to hold a conversation with.
This book started out in a very slow and somewhat annoying (to me) manner, but built to a really amazing ending. It has an Alice Through the Looking Glass quality that is the reason I gave it the rating I did.
Juliet Stevenson is awesome. I've listened to many books she's narrated including Jane Eyre, To the Ligthhouse, Mansfield Park, Northanger Abbey, Middlemarch, Room with a View, and she reads beautifully in every one, including this one. And even though I'm kind of complaining in my review, Ian McEwan's writing in general is exquisite. I tend to read his work to help improve my own writing.
The end left me hanging. I'm still not sure that everything turned out fine or not because of that abrupt ending (and I don't want to spoil the ending, so I won't elaborate further). I think technically the choice of ending was fine, but as a consumer of this story, as an audience member, I felt it wasn't enough. I have general complaints about McEwan summarizing too much of his story instead of writing out more actual scenes because his tendency to summarize leaves me with little to visualize in my own head, so instead I'm sitting there processing information and waiting for the next scene... so with this ending... Imagine you're watching a movie of this, and it ends like that: would you be happy? I wasn't. I feel like I was cheated out of an ending. Abrupt endings are more appropriate for short stories. I feel novels need a longer wrap-up, and though I understand this ending is part of his interesting plot twist, I still would have liked to have visualized a final wrap-up scene at the end in my own head.
I was only in Chapter 5 when I started writing the following out of frustration: "Oh my god--only a high caliber literary writer like Ian McEwan can take a cool story idea like a young woman joining MI5 and make it dull in that achingly beautiful, dull way that literary writers with prestigious backgrounds like to do. I'm at 2:26:05, Chapter 5, and so far all I'm hearing is summary. He's writing a 1st person point of view that's almost entirely summarized. Even when he starts a passage with "One day..." he still ends up summarizing the day. I'm at the point that when there is an actual scene with some dialogue, I'm gulping down the words as if they were drops of water in a hot desert, and then when he moves on to more summary, I feel like I didn't get enough and I'm suffering with thirst, hoping for more water, more cool drops of dialogue and scene. It's frustrating that the best writers on the planet write with such thin plots. What's the deal?" Now that I finished the book, I have to admit that things do pick up as you get closer to the end when things start to unravel. If you want a cool spy novel, this isn't it. And it takes a really long time to get the story going. This is really a love story, and though I'm sure McEwan had to do some research on Mi5 to ground the story in reality, it's still a love story about a writer and a woman who loves literature, which means he's not straying too far away from writing what he knows.
I bought this book because Juliet Stevenson is such a good reader. The book is well read, but I kept skipping chapters and didn't seem to get anywhere with the story. It dragged on and on. I never did read the last chapter because I just couldn't bear any more. Not recommended.
Pretentious meta-literary claptrap. Not surprising that one of the characters admires John Fowles. I don't. Twelve hours of my life I'll never get back.
Typically brilliant reading wasted on distinctly unbrilliant material.
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