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Publisher's Summary

Nutshell is a classic story of murder and deceit, told by a narrator with a perspective and voice unlike any in recent literature. A bravura performance, it is the finest recent work from a true master.

To be bound in a nutshell, see the world in two inches of ivory, in a grain of sand. Why not, when all of literature, all of art, of human endeavour, is just a speck in the universe of possible things?

©2016 Ian McEwan (P)2016 Random House Audiobooks

What members say

Average Customer Ratings

Overall

  • 4.3 out of 5.0
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  • 4.4 out of 5.0
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Hilarious, thrilling story

What a blast! A terrifically funny and thrilling murder story, told by an unforgettable narrator. One of the most entertaining books I've read in quite some time: this is Ian McEwan at his mischievous, exuberant best.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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i wanted more

beautifully crafted, creative, insightful - i wanted more . I will listen to it again.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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Best Ian's book

One of best book i ever read. It shall be awarded by a Nobel prize

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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"a lucky beach"

Bless me! Here is Rory Kinnear reading Ian McEwan

I have only enjoyed language as much as I have this, with my first reading of Virginia Wolf.

We read or listen for all sorts of reasons. I am 'catching up' on all those decades when I had to get up for work in the morning. Taste does change and still some books can only be read in hard copy to be slowly enjoyed like Nabakov and. I had begun to think like Virginia Wolf. And Ian McEwan.
My choice of genre ranges far and wide and at times takes huge leaps of hope in choosing an audiobook.
Here we have Ian McEwan being read on audio by Rory Kinnear
Delight.

I will have to find a hard copy though to learn if Ian M wanted a 'bow' to mean a pretty knot or a masculine curtsy. Such (maybe small) things pull up my blissful enjoyment of both story and words being read with so easy a voice.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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Great performance, reader and author well matched.

My wife and I listened in the car during a long drive. We both loved it. Very erudite. Highly recommended especially if you like wine tasting. The nutshell perspective works brilliantly.

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  • Philip
  • Kapelle, Netherlands
  • 04-30-17

Riveting perspective on the plotting of a murder!

Having a fully conscious as-yet-unborn baby provide the first person perspective on the plotting of a murder, is absolutely unique. Definitely my book recommendation for this month!

Both the writer and the narrator have done a great job.

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  • Simon
  • 09-01-16

Hamlet From The Womb

Only Ian McEwan . . . Hamlet from within the womb. It’s just so incongruent that it’s likely it simply won’t work for some readers. However if you can make the not insignificant mental leap of believing in an unborn baby with more sophistication than most of us ever manage (certainly me!) then the sheer quality of the writing carries the day. McEwan is an intelligent and observant writer who includes a lot of commentary about the human condition. His prose is extremely eloquent and the Shakespeare allusions don’t end with Hamlet. Hints of Macbeth raise their ghostly heads too.

The narration by Rory Kinnear is extremely well suited to the book and he delivers both the criminality and the not inconsiderable humour with aplomb. The story itself is actually a relatively simple one that's as old as the hills themselves. It's the unique point of view that sets it apart.

All this taken together makes this admittedly brief novel a satisfyingly original take on an old subject. If you value originality and quality writing then it’s well worth a go, just be prepared for the leap of faith that’s required from the very start.

19 of 24 people found this review helpful

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  • Susan Whitehead
  • 11-11-16

Nutshell

Absolutely fabulous, fantastic story well told by Rory Kinnear. It is amazingly gripping throughout the whole tale.

3 of 4 people found this review helpful

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  • stew
  • 09-06-16

Superb Writing Good Story

A great idea brilliantly realised. Story telling and pace were perfect and the unusual narrator a stroke of genius.
Very well read too.

5 of 7 people found this review helpful

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  • Wras
  • 09-07-16

it’s always now, always here, never then and there

Ian McEwan

This is an amazing book of the here and now, a snapshot of our present; a tragedy of Shakespearian proportions, a global ringing of bells and sirens of a world drowning in contradictions, of civilizations cultures and religions in full metamorphosys. Will it be a stillbirth? Or will the innocent pay for the crimes of the cognisant?

Human life commenting on humanity and all the demented happenings of today; I wonder if it is too contemporary to survive the future but perhaps it is us or I who will not survive the consequences of the here mentioned and this little Hamlet will continue to “suffer the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune” questioning our humanity and our weaknesses and for ever floating into new minds to pose old questions.

A book that needs many reads and much consideration, no word is wasted, no one is safe and all is exposed with incisive commentary and dialog.

The gestation of thought and ideas in a nutshell.

14 of 21 people found this review helpful

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  • Amazon Customer
  • 09-06-16

One of his best.

One of his best. My favourite living author. Lived up to all expectations. Utterly compelling. Brilliant writing as always.

7 of 11 people found this review helpful

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  • Philip
  • 01-14-17

He's a proper writer, gov'nor

Not a whodunnit, as you know who's going to do it from the start. The premise sounds silly and annoying, with the story told by the unborn child of the plotting-murderess. But, my goodness, he can write, and what a contrast to the last two I've read (Grisham and Horowitz, great storytellers but...) every word and sentence counts and is a literary masterpiece. But still edge of the seat stuff. On the highly recommended list. Ending leaves you hanging, but to be expected due to the expecting, I guess.

2 of 3 people found this review helpful

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  • Cynthia Curran
  • 09-02-16

An intellectual triumph

Any additional comments?

I haven't liked all of McEwan's books and I approached this one warily because I was fearful that the fetus narrator was an attention seeking device. From the very first sentence, I was enthralled. This book is unique, intellectually wide-ranging in its allusions and hilarious! I know my Hamlet but I am not a specialist nor am I a Shakespearean fanatic but the way that McEwan plays with the language and themes of the play is nothing short of triumphant. I am finding it difficult to come up with a variety of superlatives so I'll just say 'Download this book today.' The only thing that equals this gem of a novel is Rory Kinnear's superb narration. No, he doesn't narrate this text; he brings it to life.

7 of 12 people found this review helpful

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  • Matilde Solares
  • 12-01-17

Not the best

Nice way to tell a story. Not my favorite story though, but interesting. Really good narrator.

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  • TonyM
  • 08-23-17

Gripping so easy to suspend scepticism

There is inevitably some hesitancy in belief to overcome but to fully enter this world has to happen
The story is so insistent that it comes as a relief to succumb the pace being unrelentingly fascinating beautiful prose within an atmosphere of a new poetry

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  • Dolly
  • 06-25-17

The Inside Story

Novel approach to storyline as one expects with Ian McEwan. Excellent detail and observation. Good narrator. Would recommend.

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  • Philip Manidis
  • 09-22-16

Very enjoyable Ian McEwan

Ian McEwan back at his very best. Couldn't put it down. Very quirky and no idea which way it was going to go. Also got the ending right which hasn't always been the case. Also enjoyed the performance all round. Have already recommended this book, even though just finished.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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  • Bruce McNatty
  • 09-17-16

Excellent story from an unusual perspective!

The story's narrator is an unborn baby... I initially wondered how this would work - but it's engaging and generally excellent. There are brilliant flashes of humour, even though it's against a backdrop of a quietly unfolding thriller. Ian McEwen is at his finest.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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  • Anonymous User
  • 09-20-17

Not his best

The idea was interesting but the execution was flawed. The plot was too simplistic to be interesting, the sensory experience was inconsistent, often clumsy and irritatingly prescriptive. Disappointing compared to Atonement and Enduring Love, 2 of my favourite reads.

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  • tracy
  • 09-01-17

in a nutshell

So clever, witty and amusing. Fun spotting the Shakespeare reference or quote! bard fans must read

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  • Christine Campbell
  • 05-08-17

Clever concept

Loved the narrators voice suited the story and sounded as though Mcewan was actually reading it. Clever concept with the book speaking to the reader as an unborn infant. Provided much dry wit and many chuckles throughout the story. Ending predicted but didnt detract from the tale. Enjoyed this more than other McEwan books.

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  • Jill
  • 02-19-17

McEwan is brilliant as always!

Would you consider the audio edition of Nutshell to be better than the print version?

Yes - enacted by excellent performer.

What was one of the most memorable moments of Nutshell?

The closing scene.

Which character – as performed by Rory Kinnear – was your favourite?

The unborn child. First peron narrator.

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

Not really becuase there were so many motfis and allusions to Hamlet that I needed to reflect on.

Any additional comments?

Very clever.

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  • Jennykching
  • 11-06-16

A masterpiece -- brilliant, witty, profound and moving.

If I could give this book 6/5 stars, I would. One of the best books I've ever read (or rather, heard). I have had to stop myself from going back for a 4th listen. One of those books you grieve for when it's finished. There is so much in it--every sentence is so elegant, rich, beautifully crafted and full of meaning. And the narrator (Rory Kinnear) is marvellous.

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  • Clare Cotton
  • 11-01-16

Ian Mcewan never fails

I particularly loved the narrator voice - a wise yet innocent and unknowing, unborn baby in the womb, hearing all and interpreting for us what he heard and surmised, A clever device that really worked for me.

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  • Kristine
  • 10-11-16

Thoroughly enjoyable

Nothing like what I was expecting but a real delight. Masterly written and read. Highly recommended.

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  • 2achel
  • 10-06-16

In a nutshell...

Would you say that listening to this book was time well-spent? Why or why not?

I listened to the audiobook version of this book. The narrator was the only reason I 'read' the whole book. A cast of unlikeable and un-relatable characters. The fetus has the persona of a pretentious middle-aged professor who's intellect is unbelievable considering the likelihood of fetal alcohol syndrome. As a midwife I couldn't help but squirm at the birth scene (a caul cannot be shrugged off) - women's first labours generally take hours not minutes. Interesting concept though... I guess.

What does Rory Kinnear bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you had only read the book?

Rory is a fantastic narrator and saved the story

Could you see Nutshell being made into a movie or a TV series? Who would the stars be?

I hope not