Hide this

Results from Google Books

Click on a thumbnail to go to Google Books.

Solar by Ian McEwan

Solar (original 2010; edition 2010)

by Ian McEwan

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
2,4631192,494 (3.29)176
Authors:Ian McEwan
Info:Nan A. Talese (2010), Edition: First American Edition, Hardcover, 304 pages
Collections:Your library

Work details

Solar by Ian McEwan (2010)


Sign up for LibraryThing to find out whether you'll like this book.

No current Talk conversations about this book.

» See also 176 mentions

English (96)  Dutch (6)  French (4)  German (3)  Spanish (2)  Italian (2)  Portuguese (Brazil) (2)  Norwegian (1)  Danish (1)  Finnish (1)  Hebrew (1)  All languages (119)
Showing 1-5 of 96 (next | show all)
Summary: In the afterglow of winning a Nobel Prize, Michael Beard lives a dismal life marked by multiple marriages, figurehead positions, and his own gluttony. However, after his most recent wife leaves him, Beard attempts to start living life to the fullest. He stumbles into this new life with a great deal of fanfare and catastrophe: covering up murder, nearly losing his penis to frostbite, and devising a plan to harness the power of the sun to save the planet. ( )
  dalzan | Apr 13, 2015 |
Per alcuni versi un po' grottesco, per altri un po' strascinato, il romanzo (che è pur sempre un buon romanzo, scritto con mestiere e solidità, con la professionalità del narratore quale McEwan è) è su toni decisamente minori rispetto ad altri del medesimo autore. Salvo tra tutte le ambientazioni quelle relative al viaggio sui ghiacci, che danno qualche elemento di novità in un folto gruppo di pagine leggere e deja-vu. ( )
  bobparr | Dec 14, 2014 |
My brain couldn't quite keep up with the physics but oh dear me the story of Michael Beard----what a character to behold!! There are a few incredible laugh out loud pieces---almost place holders in Beard's life and then you reach the moment when everything sort of comes to pass and there is Beard---seeing everything come at him at once. Can you like Beard and/or sympathize in any way with his character? He is such a beautifully crafted character---and listening to him speak, in the audio by Roger Allam, is truly wonderful. ( )
  nyiper | Jun 21, 2014 |
Darkly satirical in a way that worked, for me, in Amsterdam but flounders in the format of this much longer work. I don't need a sympathetic main character but I won't deny some glimmer of humanity can help. Such a thorough ass really requires an impeccably well-written story to maintain my interest, and this ain't one. There are a few amusing set-pieces and some interesting observations on the state of the planet and its inhabitants but they are lost in endless pages of sadly rather boring writing. ( )
  Vivl | Jun 6, 2014 |
Ian McEwan's "Solar" reads much better as a study in the micro echoing the macro than for the story itself. The writing struggles to be humorous, but ends up feeling more pathetic, tragic, and ultimately embarrassing in many sections.

The redemption for this novel is the postscript at the end, which is the text of the Nobel Committee's speech given when the protagonist won his Nobel Prize (long before the action of the book). The prize was for a discovery of the way that tightly bound matter can be unraveled under the right conditions. And that's just what happens to the protagonist. His whole life is spent tying himself in knots, until all the loose ends threaten to tie him down at the end of the story. Somehow, a loose thread is pulled and his concerns (and his life) come undone.

I also enjoyed how the protagonist enumerated all the problems with getting the world to convert to an alternative energy source, and then proceeded to exemplify those problems in his personal life. Greed, selfishness, impatience, indifference, belief in one answer to solve all the problems. These were all traits of his personal life and his relationships. He tried to overcome these traits in others to introduction easy cheap energy to the world, but ultimately failed due, I believe, to his inability to overcome them himself.

I wouldn't recommend this to someone who hasn't read McEwan before. This is far from his best. Stick with "Atonement" or "Saturday" before tackling this non-story with a message. ( )
  sbloom42 | May 21, 2014 |
Showing 1-5 of 96 (next | show all)
Despite the book’s somber, scientific backdrop (and global warming here is little but that), “Solar” is Mr. McEwan’s funniest novel yet — a novel that in tone and affect often reads more like something by Zoë Heller or David Lodge. Like “Amsterdam,” this latest book shows off his gifts as a satirist, but while it gets off to a rollicking start, its plot machinery soon starts to run out of gas, sputtering and stalling as it makes its way from one comic set piece to another.
Beard is as robust and full-fleshed and ebullient a character as McEwan has come up with. And in Solar, he shows a side to himself as a writer — a puckishness, a broadness of humour, an extravagance of style — that we haven’t seen before.
But as this is McEwan, the laughs fade away. The denouement of Solar in sunny New Mexico is not predictable but is predictably bleak, and my only reservation about the novel is that the end is a bit of a jolt, the brakes are applied rather forcefully. But perhaps this is because McEwan is planning Solar II. I hope so because I rather like Michael Beard.
McEwan writes sentences of such witty elegance that the loss of John Updike seems a little easier to bear. But as a whole, this comedy about a venal scientist never generates the tension one expects from the Booker Prize-winning author of "Amsterdam" and "Atonement."
According to the perverse aesthetics of artistic guilty pleasure, certain books and movies are so bad — so crudely conceived, despicably motivated and atrociously executed — that they’re actually rather good. “Solar,” the new novel by Ian McEwan, is just the opposite: a book so good — so ingeniously designed, irreproachably high-minded and skillfully brought off — that it’s actually quite bad. Instead of being awful yet absorbing, it’s impeccable yet numbing, achieving the sort of superbly wrought inertia of a Romanesque cathedral. There’s so little wrong with it that there’s nothing particularly right about it, either. It’s impressive to behold but something of a virtuous pain to read.

» Add other authors (18 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Ian McEwanprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Dean, SuzanneCover designersecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Olcina, EmiliTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
You must log in to edit Common Knowledge data.
For more help see the Common Knowledge help page.
Series (with order)
Canonical title
Original title
Information from the Dutch Common Knowledge. Edit to localize it to your language.
Alternative titles
Original publication date
Important places
Important events
Related movies
Awards and honors
"It gives him great pleasure, makes Rabbit feel right, to contemplate the world's wastings, to know the earth is mortal too."

Rabbit is Rich, John Updike
To Polly Bide
First words
He belonged to that class of men - vaguely unprepossessing, often bald, short, fat, clever - who were unaccountably attractive to certain beautiful women.
Information from the Spanish Common Knowledge. Edit to localize it to your language.
La Edad de Piedra no terminó a causa de la escasez de piedras.
Last words
(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
Disambiguation notice
Publisher's editors
Information from the Dutch Common Knowledge. Edit to localize it to your language.
Publisher series
Information from the Finnish Common Knowledge. Edit to localize it to your language.
Original language

References to this work on external resources.

Wikipedia in English (2)

Book description
Haiku summary

Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0385533411, Hardcover)

The literary event of the season: a new novel from Ian McEwan, as surprising as it is masterful.

Michael Beard is a Nobel prize–winning physicist whose best work is behind him. Trading on his reputation, he speaks for enormous fees, lends his name to the letterheads of renowned scientific institutions, and half-heartedly heads a government-backed initiative tackling global warming. While he coasts along in his professional life, Michael’s personal life is another matter entirely. His fifth marriage is crumbling under the weight of his infidelities. But this time the tables are turned: His wife is having an affair, and Michael realizes he is still in love with her.

When Michael’s personal and professional lives begin to intersect in unexpected ways, an opportunity presents itself in the guise of an invitation to travel to New Mexico. Here is a chance for him to extricate himself from his marital problems, reinvigorate his career, and very possibly save the world from environmental disaster. Can a man who has made a mess of his life clean up the messes of humanity?

A complex novel that brilliantly traces the arc of one man’s ambitions and self-deceptions, Solar is a startling, witty, and stylish new work from one of the world’s great writers.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:19:49 -0400)

(see all 6 descriptions)

When Nobel prize-winning physicist Michael Beard's personal and professional lives begin to intersect in unexpected ways, an opportunity presents itself in the guise of an invitation to travel to New Mexico. Here is a chance for him to extricate himself from his marital problems, reinvigorate his career, and very possibly save the world from environmental disaster.… (more)

(summary from another edition)

» see all 8 descriptions

Quick Links

Swap Ebooks Audio
54 avail.
192 wanted
8 pay7 pay

Popular covers


Average: (3.29)
0.5 4
1 26
1.5 6
2 82
2.5 34
3 225
3.5 104
4 213
4.5 30
5 42


4 editions of this book were published by Audible.com.

See editions

Is this you?

Become a LibraryThing Author.


Help/FAQs | About | Privacy/Terms | Blog | Store | Contact | LibraryThing.com | APIs | WikiThing | Common Knowledge | Legacy Libraries | Early Reviewers | 98,381,996 books! | Top bar: Always visible