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The Innocent: A Novel by Ian McEwan

The Innocent: A Novel (original 1990; edition 1998)

by Ian McEwan

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1,718324,132 (3.66)39
Title:The Innocent: A Novel
Authors:Ian McEwan
Info:Anchor (1998), Paperback, 288 pages
Collections:Your library
Tags:audiobook, fiction, Germany

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The Innocent by Ian McEwan (1990)


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English (26)  Spanish (3)  Norwegian (1)  Italian (1)  Dutch (1)  All languages (32)
Showing 1-5 of 26 (next | show all)
weird compared to his other novels , not sure if i liked it or not , see other reviews ( )
  Suzannie1 | Oct 15, 2015 |
Interesting style but often tiresomely lingering. A lot of mind reading. Quick and dramatic switch from intelligence work to murder cover-upper. ( )
  wanderland | Feb 27, 2015 |
Ian McEwan is a fantastic writer. This book was very graphic, but I am glad I read it. I am a fan! ( )
  anitatally | Feb 3, 2015 |
It is hard to categorize Ian McEwan’s writing. This is probably the fifth book of his that I have read and each one has been quite a different style. This book is perhaps a historical romance but that is rather simplistic. At heart it is an exploration of how circumstances cause people to do unthinkable things.
Leonard Marnham is a twenty-five year old electronics technician who works for the Post Office which in Britain was responsible for the telephone system. So when Britain needs someone to provide technical expertise for a top-secret project in Berlin Leonard is sent. The project is a collaboration with the US and Leonard is seconded to the US group. Bob Glass, a security expert for the project, shows him the ropes. The project entails digging a tunnel over to the Russian sector and tapping into their phone lines which connect East Germany with the USSR headquarters. Bob also takes Leonard on a night out in East and West Berlin. In one of the nightclubs telephones and pneumatic tubes connect the patrons and Leonard receives a letter from a beautiful German woman. Maria is a divorced thirty-year-old and, when she learns that Leonard is a virgin, she takes on the task of initiating him sexually. Soon Leonard and Maria are spending every night together which causes Bob Glass some concern that Maria is a spy. Although she isn’t Maria does get Leonard involved in a situation that results in a security breach.
A word of warning for people with weak stomachs: there are a couple of chapters that will test you. I’m not sure why McEwan had to go into so much graphic detail; perhaps it was meant to underline the dichotomy between Leonard’s innocence and his criminality. Whatever the reason I think those chapters will haunt me for a long time and I won’t be recommending this book to anyone. ( )
1 vote gypsysmom | Sep 3, 2014 |
Leonard, the titular "innocent", is a telephone technician who travels to Berlin in 1955 to work a secret project to intercept communications from the Russian embassy. He acquires a German girlfriend - his first - and settles into life in Berlin. However there are indications that things might be about to go wrong for him. His girlfriend's ex is a violent thug who shows up every now and then to beat her up. He has a new, mysterious neighbour who is showing too much interest in what Leonard is up to. And his boss is also all too interested in what is going on in Leonard's life.

I spent the first half of this book wondering where the book was going and why I was reading about such unpleasant characters. Then, around the halfway mark there is a major event which dramatically shifts the direction of events. The second half is much more of a thriller and the ending comes together in a very pleasing way. A cleverly crafted story. ( )
  Hanneri | Aug 15, 2014 |
Showing 1-5 of 26 (next | show all)
Ian McEwan has concentrated too much of his artistic energy on the surface of his story, has burnished it to such a high finish that not only the eye but the mind slides over and, ultimately, off the page.

Despite all that, I have to say that The Innocent is marvelously entertaining, filled with dark irony, with horror and regret.
added by jburlinson | editNew York Review of Books, John Banville (pay site) (Dec 6, 1990)
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It was Lieutenant Lofting who dominated the meeting. "Look here, Marnham. You've only just arrived, so there's no reason why you should know the situation. It's not the Germans or the Russians who are the problem here. It isn't even the French. It's the Americans. They don't know a thing. What's worse, they won't learn, they won't be told. It's just how they are."
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0385494335, Paperback)

Leonard Marnham is assigned to a British-American surveillance team in Cold War Berlin. His intelligence work—tunneling under a Russian communications center to tap the phone lines to Moscow—offers him a welcome opportunity to begin shedding his own unwanted innocence, even if he is only a bit player in a grim international comedy of errors. Leonard's relationship with Maria Eckdorf, an enigmatic and beautiful West Berliner, likewise promises to loosen the bonds of his ordinary life. But the promise turns to horror in the course of one terrible evening—a night when Leonard Marnham learns just how much of his innocence he's willing to shed.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:09:45 -0400)

(see all 7 descriptions)

McEwan acknowledges his debt to the historian David Martin for the true story of the Berlin Tunnel or Operation Gold. To this truth, McEwan has wedded a fiction of tragedy and a love story of a sort.

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