As I type out (well, for the most part "copy in") this book post, I am quite shocked to see that this was the last book I read, usually it seems as if I am books and books behind, but it is closing in on the end of the year ... so gotta get ready for the big year-in-review / awards post (ack!)
Sweet Tooth is my 6th Ian McEwan novel, so this likely puts him near (or at) the top of my most-read (non-series) authors list.
In fact, the very first year that I started blogging about books, his novel Saturday was my Fiction Book of the Year... and that is going all the way back to 2006! Here are links to my other McEwan book posts: Amsterdam, Atonement, On Chesil Beach, and The Comfort of Strangers (one of his earlier works, and my "least" favorite).
always impressed with his cool precision, almost surgeon-like skill.
McEwan tends to throw his characters into terribly uncomfortable
positions, so much so that it is often difficult not to squirm in your
seat a bit. This novel is no different, and we learn that in the opening
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. Within eighteen months of joining, I was sacked, having disgraced myself and ruined my lover, though he certainly had a hand in his own undoing.
So Sweet Tooth is not so much about the proverbial destination, but the journey. I found it all pretty fascinating. The premise -- Britain's MI5 surreptitiously supporting arts and culture as a means of fighting the Cold War in the mid-1970s -- may raise the eyebrows of skeptics, but I think there is plenty of evidence of real-life exposed government secrets and scandals to prove the "truth is often stranger than fiction" adage.
This is novel about writing and reading. It is stories within stories. It is well-crafted and clever. I suspect it may be *too* well-crafted and clever for some, particularly the "love it or hate it" ending. For me it marched right up to the edge, but borrowing a phrase from gymnastics, it stuck the landing.
It is all very British lit, an air of snootiness to it, but this is McEwan. A solid 4 stars throughout, but the un-put-downable finale bumped it to my hedged 4.5 stars, with a not so hesitant round-up to 5 stars. Well played, McEwan. Well played.