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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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1,622264,469 (3.67)35
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 (22)  Spanish (3)  Norwegian (1)  All languages (26)
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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 |
Riveting story, masterful writing (as usual)... but icky, icky corpse disposal scene. Ugh. ( )
  joecanas | Jan 12, 2014 |
Not as good as the other McEwan that I've read (though possibly better than Endless Love), but nice all the same. A must if you want some literate cold war espionage.
  BrianFannin | May 31, 2013 |
I didn't really get into this story of a young Englishman sent to Berlin for some technical spying work, but the first half or so was OK. After that, it seemed to go downhill chapter by chapter: unlikely plot developments, contrived relationships, and annoying characters seemed to abound. ( )
  mari_reads | Mar 2, 2013 |
this is probably not the best Ian McEwan book to start with - I hope ( )
  rosies | Aug 8, 2012 |
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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 Mon, 30 Sep 2013 13:29:54 -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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