I love asking customers when they buy a McEwan novel, if they are a fan or whether it’s the first McEwan novel they are reading. Everyone’s answers are really interesting and I’ve come to find that he’s a real marmite author –love him or hate him.
Personally I love a McEwan novel. Atonement is probably one of my favourite books I have ever read. The Cement Garden is another really good one of his which is his debut. In my opinion, his earlier work is a lot stronger than his more recent work. I did not care for Solar. So this is his latest, published last year in PB, and it is good. But just good. It centers on Serena Frome, who eventually is groomed for the intelligence services and what happens from there is a web of intrigue and interest. I just feel like McEwan doesn’t do his characters justice in this novel. Or maybe it’s just the fact that none of the characters are very likeable, and the ones that are supposed to be are quite irritating.
Although I think McEwan falls short of his usual magic, I did actually enjoy this. As I say, if you’re a McEwan fan, its worth a read but if you are new to McEwan, you’re better off with one of his earlier ones.
“Serena Frome, the beautiful daughter of an Anglican bishop, has a brief affair with an older man during her final year at Cambridge, and finds herself being groomed for the intelligence services. The year is 1972. Britain, confronting economic disaster, is being torn apart by industrial unrest and terrorism and faces its fifth state of emergency. The Cold War has entered a moribund phase, but hr fight goes on, especially in the cultural sphere.
Serena, a compulsive reader of novels, is sent on a ‘secret mission’ which brings her into the literary world of Tom Haley, a promising young writer. First she loves his stories, then she begins to love the man. Can she maintain the fiction of her undercover life? And who is inventing whom? To answer these questions, Serena must abandon the first rule of espionage – trust no one.
McEwan’s mastery dazzles us in this superbly deft and witty story of betrayal and intrigue, love, and the invented self.”