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Sweet Tooth by Ian McEwan
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Sweet Tooth (original 2012; edition 2012)

by Ian McEwan

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1,7671223,983 (3.53)118
Member:HelenBaker
Title:Sweet Tooth
Authors:Ian McEwan
Info:Jonathan Cape (2012), Hardcover, 336 pages
Collections:Your library
Rating:***1/2
Tags:English Fiction

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Sweet Tooth by Ian McEwan (2012)

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    The Unwitting by Ellen Feldman (RidgewayGirl)
    RidgewayGirl: The same general topic from a different angle.
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» See also 118 mentions

English (111)  Spanish (4)  Dutch (2)  Hebrew (1)  Norwegian (1)  Catalan (1)  German (1)  Danish (1)  All languages (122)
Showing 1-5 of 111 (next | show all)
FABULOUS plot - could not put it down. ( )
  anitatally | Feb 2, 2015 |
A novel that follows the career path of a young entrant, Serena Frome, into MI5 in 1972, turns into something different in the final chapter. But, to reveal the change would be a disservice to the reader – discover it for yourself.
Serena’s childhood and education are deftly sketched in the early chapters, before her recruitment into MI5. In this early period, Serena seems out of sorts with her contemporaries, but finds her niche in her work, especially when given her own contact to handle as part of operation Sweet Tooth.
Altogether, this is an engrossing story about the actions of its leading characters, as well as providing a contrast in attitudes and education in the early 1970s that is relevant even today.
  camharlow2 | Jan 29, 2015 |
Intrigue and spies and 1970s malaise and sex. What's not to like? ( )
  laurieindra | Jan 4, 2015 |
Such an F&(*ing annoying book - so utterly brilliant and wonderful in parts (the last chapter is phenomenally written and constructed), yet so much of the book is bland porridge with no substance or purpose. I was utterly bored with half the chapters and loved the other half. ( )
  lincolnpan | Dec 31, 2014 |
Young woman recruited for MI5 gets involved with the writer she's supposed to be using. No spoiler: You knew this would happen -- which is a fault in the novel. ( )
  picardyrose | Nov 23, 2014 |
Showing 1-5 of 111 (next | show all)
A satisfying spy novel with a literary twist provides both surprises and sly references to McEwan's early work
 
Ian McEwan has never been a spy (or, if he has, that fact remains classified), but of today's novelists he may be the most uniquely suited to the profession. He has a scientific, technical mind drawn to structural ploys and complicated scene engineering. . . . Mr. McEwan likes manipulating readers as much as plots. . . . Ultimately, like his bloodless previous novel, Solar (2010), there is little point to Sweet Tooth beyond Mr. McEwan's low-level authorial deceptions. . . . The book is soon overwhelmed by its own narrative ruse, which revealed in the final pages, is clever but not meaningful.
added by sgump | editWall Street Journal, Sam Sacks (Nov 13, 2012)
 
In playing these mirror games, Mr. McEwan seems to want to make the reader think about the lines between life and art, and the similarities between spying and writing. He also seems to want to make us reconsider the assumptions we make when we read a work of fiction. As usual his prose is effortlessly seductive. And he does a nimble job too of conjuring London in the 1970s — with its economic woes, worries about I.R.A. bombings and uneasy assimilation of the countercultural changes of the ’60s. These aspects of “Sweet Tooth” keep the reader trucking on through the novel, but alas they’re insufficient compensation for the story’s self-conscious contrivance and foreseeable conclusion.
 
The combination of all these nose-tapping hints suggests to the alert reader that there’s something clever-clever coming along at the end, which makes it feel even more like a gimmick. I won’t spoil things if you’re going to read the book, but just remember that one of the central characters is a novelist. OK?
 
But Sweet Tooth – which has been misleadingly hyped as a thriller – is a different kind of work altogether. It’s McEwan’s version of metafiction, his exploration of what it could mean to write a postmodern-realist novel for a wide (mainstream and literary) readership. It’s also rather biographical. . . . . but this novel could be seen as his way of reaching beyond the easy labels without abandoning the style his readers love. He’s intelligent, has popular and literary appeal, manages credibly and interestingly to include politics in his writing, and has a gift for making an enormous range of readers feel as though he is writing about them, about their own particular life of the mind. He observes the tiny tragedies of growing up and growing old with humour and insight.
 

» Add other authors (8 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Ian McEwanprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Verhoef, RienTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Epigraph
If only I had met, on this search, a single clearly evil person.
Timothy Garton Ash, The File
Dedication
To Christopher Hitchens
1949-2011
First words
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.
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Information from the Italian Common Knowledge. Edit to localize it to your language.
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Recruited into MI5 against a backdrop of the Cold War in 1972, Cambridge student Serena Frome, a compulsive reader, is assigned to infiltrate the literary circle of a promising young writer whose politics align with those of the government, a situation that is compromised when she falls in love with him.… (more)

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