Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Sweet Tooth by Ian McEwan

I was really looking forward to reading this book. I hated Solar with the passion of a thousand burning suns (see what I did there?) but all the reviews I read said how good this book was, how different it was to Solar and how similar it was (in style not content) to Atonement – exactly what I needed to her to get me excited about reading McEwan again. The opening paragraph gave me goosebumps:

My name is Serena Frome (rhymes with plume) and almost forty years ago I was sent on a secret mission for the British security service. I didn’t return safely.

Exciting, right? Presaging much thrilling action, right? Wrong. Serena’s secret mission is to fund a novelist. Yup, that’s it. She gives a novelist enough money to quit his day job and write. Pretty exciting stuff! There’s a lot of information about politics in England in the ‘70s and a whole bunch of stuff about the emerging literary scene of that time that completely went over my head and was, frankly, boring. We were also asked to believe some very unlikely things such as Haley's Austen Prize experience, (although Haley's short stories were the highlight of the whole book). Sweet Tooth was a real slog to get through, which is a huge disappointment from the author of masterpieces such as Saturday and Atonement.  I recently re-read Amsterdam, which won the Booker prize in 1988, and in direct comparison to that novel this book lacked spark, verve, life and passion. It was very well written, but that’s just not enough. Two out of five stars.

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