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Sweet Tooth: A Novel Hardcover – 2012

23 customer reviews

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Product Details

  • Hardcover
  • Publisher: Nan A. Talese (2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 9780385536820
  • ISBN-13: 978-0385536820
  • ASIN: 0385536828
  • Product Dimensions: 17.1 x 3 x 24.1 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 635 g
  • Average Customer Review: 3.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (23 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #2,281,161 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Customer Reviews

3.3 out of 5 stars

Most helpful customer reviews

11 of 11 people found the following review helpful By Reader Writer Runner TOP 50 REVIEWER on Sept. 16 2012
Format: Hardcover
I must admit that the premise of Ian McEwan's latest novel did not initially excite me: young, British woman becomes embroiled in intrigue, a love affair and anti-Communist espionage. However, I couldn't take a pass on my favourite author's new work so I gave "Sweet Tooth" a try. As usual, McEwan did not disappoint.

Serena Frome (rhymes with plume), the gorgeous and intelligent daughter of an Anglican bishop and an ambitious mother, reluctantly studies math at Cambridge. In her spare time, she shines as a book reviewer in a student magazine column called "What I Read Last Week." Frome soon discovers Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn and starts writing anti-Communist rants, which get her noticed by Tony Canning, a university professor who becomes her lover. Unbeknownst to Serena, Canning grooms her for a career in the intelligence service with MI-5.

Serena's superiors put her in charge of recruiting young academic and promising writer, Tom Healy, into the program. Of course, she cannot tell Healy that his funds come from MI-5; he believes he is being paid by a cultural foundation. Ultimately, Serena leads a double life with Healy; she becomes his lover but also spies on him for the intelligence service. Meanwhile, she believes she is being followed doesn’t know whom she can trust, especially after she finds out a secret about Canning.

As usual, McWean's spare, efficient prose makes this book both memorable and enjoyable. But it's the author's knack for subtly incorporating the unexpected that makes him truly remarkable. "Solar" featured a faked murder, "Atonement" hinged on a crucial lie, and "Amsterdam" ended in devastation. "Sweet Tooth," too, contains a little surprise that everything turns upon. It not only makes the reader gasp audibly; it brilliantly unites the themes of deception, betrayal and unconditional love.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By John Kwok TOP 500 REVIEWER on Oct. 16 2012
Format: Hardcover
Ian McEwan has conjured a most riveting blend of literary fiction, historical fiction and espionage thriller in his latest novel, "Sweet Truth", which is as much a celebration of early 1970s Anglo-American literature as well as a spellbinding espionage thriller of the kind readers might expect from John Le Carre or Ken Follet. Drawn upon a relatively little known aspect of British espionage history, McEwan's new novel is a riveting tale of love and betrayal, espionage and one's own identity. A young Cambridge University student, the literary minded and mathematically inclined Serena Frome, is recruited by MI5 - Great Britain's equivalent of the American FBI - in identifying potential writers who could work on behalf of the Conservative British government on a public disinformation campaign against Britain's left-wing opposition. She soon identifies a likely prospect, the young writer Tom Healy, becoming both his muse, and eventually, his lover, sharing his passion for superb contemporary Anglo-American literature as he writes a potential award-winning dystopian fiction debut novel. Narrated in first-person by Frome years after the events chronicled in "Sweet Tooth", readers are treated to a rapidly spiraling web of deceit as Frome struggles to keep her secret identity as a MI5 agent from Healy, as she retains an intensely intellectual and sexual-charged relationship with him. Much to my amazement, McEwan also treats readers to the best fictional depiction of the Monty Hall problem in probability theory I have encountered, and one especially memorable for its revealing insights pertaining to Frome's behavior. Without question, McEwan's compellingly readable new novel should be viewed as among this year's best and one probably destined for consideration for many of the major awards bestowed upon contemporary Anglo-American literature.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By little lady blue TOP 100 REVIEWER on April 28 2013
Format: Hardcover
I'm not sure if there is such a thing as `subtle espionage' but it seems to be what McEwan was going for with this book.

The end left me deflated. There was no defining closure. I thought maybe even one more page could have allowed a satisfying ending. Then for some reason I flipped back to page 1 & found in the first paragraph how cleverly McEwan had given us the ending we would all be looking for at the very beginning, had we only known.

I found the premise of the `Sweet Tooth' mission silly, but then I'm not up on how MI5 works. Serena is not the most likable of characters. For a pretty, well educated, well read girl from a good family she is very naïve & gullible. She appears as pliable putty falling `in love' with every man that crosses her path. Also the books within the book was a bit tedious. For these reasons the story kind of plodded along, but I couldn't stop reading because of the way McEwan writes. Its conversational prose written in the first person, narrated by Serena, kind of pulls you in & you can't stop.

*Of special interest to me was the way Tom explains to Serena how to `feel' poetry rather than just read the words. (Pg.178). Exceptionally touching & beautifully expressed. It made me want to read some poetry.*

McEwan is a skillful master of words making for me an otherwise absurd story with an unlikable heroine quite readable.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Keith Broadbent on May 23 2013
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Serena is a hapless young woman stumbling her way through a silly MI5 the early 70's Educated but relatively poor, beautiful, but of a social class that somehow missed out on the wildness of that era in Britain.leaving her sexually vulnerable to just about every man she meets.. She is nowhere near as self-aware as today's young people.
Wonderful pictures of the bed-sit, rain-soaked London of that era..A finely drawn character.
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