It is 1955 and post-war Berlin is crawling with subterfuge. East eyes West, and the West is eavesdropping on Soviet communications through Operation Gold, a daring technological collaboration between Britain and America which is already straining with distrust.
That freezing winter a young British Post Office technician, Leonard Marnham, begins his dizzying descent into ever-deeper echelons of electronic surveillance beneath the surface of Berlin. At the same time he is lovingly initiated by a beautiful young German called Maria. He feels he is throwing away his life - and the abandonment is delicious. As these two worlds - personal and professional - claim Leonard, he senses that his life is about to change.
©1998 Ian McEwan (P)2010 BBC Audiobooks Ltd
I enjoyed listening to this - the narration seemed perfect fit for the text. The first half developed the characters well, and you really felt for the "Englishness" of our hero. The second half trod a certain plot line that I've heard before, and I'm not so keen on. Nevertheless, I did enjoy the story and being inside the minds of the Allies in post-war Berlin.
"A great story brilliantly narrated"
What a great listen! What started out as an evocation of 50's Berlin and a naive young man's awakening to women and American popular culture, shifted gear to a cold war spy story, a love story and then a plot twist to an impossible situation (which I won't spoil the plot by disclosing), with excrutiating detail of how that unfolded. Ending up back in the spy story, it was all wrapped up with an emotional finale. This roller-coaster ride is beautifully described and brilliantly narrated, with great insight into the characters.
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