Thursday, September 19, 2013

Book Review: Sweet Tooth by Ian McEwan

On the jacket:

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 the 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.


This was my first Ian McEwan book and I had heard a lot about the author. I was not disappointed one bit. He's won Man Booker Prize and his books have been made into movies. Sweet Tooth is about Serena, daughter of an Anglican Bishop, who had had a short affair with an older man when in college. She finds herself being groomed for intelligent services.

The period in which the story is set, is when Britain was being torn apart by terrorism, economic downfall and was in a bad state. This book is about Serena's journey, and at so many places, I ended up imagining myself as her. Why wouldn't I? She is an avid reader and in one of her missions she meet an young author whose stories she falls in love with. And then with him. That's so romantic. 

Very interesting narrative, with clear indications of the author's knowledge and indulgence of literature. Serena's story flows freely and as a reader, one can easily get very involved in the plot. Who doesn't love a spy novel, and McEwan is surely a master in spinning such plots. You wait for something to happen, but when it happens, it does at the least expected point. 

An excellent read.

Rating: ****/5

[This review is for Random House India. The opinions are strictly my own and not been written under any obligation.]

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