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The Comfort of Strangers Paperback


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Product Details

  • Paperback
  • Publisher: Anchor
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0679749845
  • ISBN-13: 978-0679749844
  • Product Dimensions: 20.4 x 13.1 x 1 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 113 g
  • Average Customer Review: 3.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (24 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #1,602,324 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)


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3.5 out of 5 stars
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
I recently revisited this book and it was as fresh, beautiful, and haunting as all of McEwan's novels. A couple on holiday visit a city that seems to be Venice but is unnamed. They've been together seven years and have become so close they are like identical twins still in the womb, so in synchrony there is a dullness to their connection and lives. Even in this new city, the sleepy spell between them isn't really broken, and one night when they get lost in the city it feels like they are lost within themselves, unable to find their way out of the predictable comforts that protect them from the world - a shared humor, an intellectual way of looking at the world, a surrender to sexual playfulness. As events become more sinister, you become aware of how your own life is filled with a veneer of comforts that are largely illusory, a kind of affirmative lie that we cling to as protection. The climax of the novel is almost unimaginable and leaves you breathless. But what I love most about this novel, and all of McEwan's novels, are his beautiful insights about character, about the often amusing and unarticulated way that we all perceive the world, and the machinations of life itself.
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on Sept. 22 2001
Format: Paperback
Well at least it's short. It's true that if you read just a few sentences you can appreciate the prose style. But after 50 pages you might wonder why the author needed to spend that many pages just showing an aimless couple wandering around on vacation. None of that prose adds up to a thing.
Around page 50 they meet a mysterious man. It's all very crassly done, like something written by a student. No character feels remotely real.
Then for forty pages the main characters wonder about this mysterious new friend and his wife or girlfriend or whatever she is. Forty more pages to yawn through.
Then at page 90 an odd discovery, and then the bizarre, unrealistic, unbelievable, and gross, ending. An ending that has nothing to do with anything really. It's just very sick and violent. It comes from nowhere and leaves you dissatisfied.
I suppose Ian McEwan thought he was making some point, something about power relationships (oh very trendy!), but it's pretty thin. I've noticed that several bad authors do the following: they take a wisp of a philosophical idea that they haven't really thought out, and so they know they could never really write an essay or a non-fiction book about it. The ideas are too thin and incomplete. But then they hit on a brainstorm. They can write a novel that puts forwad this philosophical idea and they'll be forgiven for not having thought it through because, after all, it's only a story. Don Dellilo's "White Noise" has been accused of this. Italo Calvino makes a living off of it as does Mulan Kundera. Anyway, the consequence is a very manipulative plot-based novel or worse, a bad essay disguised as a novel, with little to no character development.
That is exactly the case with "The Comfort of Strangers". Let's put it this way, if Ian McEwan didn't already have a huge reputation he never could have gotten this published.
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Format: Paperback
Ian McEwan is a master of painting a vivid picture and telling a gripping tale, while not wasting pulp.. Comfort of strangers is an excellent example. As I read I could visualize the scenes. McEwan is hard to put down. I did not feel much emotional connection to any of the characters but I doubt I was supposed to. Recommended read...
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By H. F. Corbin on June 10 2003
Format: Hardcover
Many of the trademarks we have come to expect in McEwan novels are already here in this early novel published in the U. S. in 1981, the ironic title, the complexity, the psychological tension, the ambiguities, the questions left unanswered. I was handicapped in reading this novel in that I had already seen the movie so it was impossible not to see Rupert Everett and Natasha Richardson getting lost in those maze-like alleys in Venice. (Nowhere in this slim novel, however, does McEwan name the city where the sinister action takes place.} On the other hand, since I knew the outcome, I could look for and admire the clues the author gives as to what will happen. McEwan does an excellent job of setting the tone for what ultimately occurs early in the novel. As early as page 17: "Colin and Mary had never left the hotel so late, and Mary was to attribute much of what followed to this fact." There are lots of references to the sexual tension between men and women in addition to many homoerotic allusions throughout the book that prepare you, at least in part, for the shattering climax of this horrific little novel.
McEwan always gives the reader a story that appeals both to the intellect and the emotions. As usual, he doesn't disappoint us. One of the joys of living in these times is awaiting a new McEwan novel.
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Format: Paperback
.............Wow, what a wild ride this was.
It's about Mary and Colin, a dating couple in a stale 7 year relationship. While on vacation in an un-named location, which you are never told where they are but you know they are amongst lots of other tourists, open air cafe's by the ocean, narrow cobble stone streets, ruins and assorted attractions.
One night the couple set out to have a late dinner and become lost. A strange but friendly man named Robert comes to their rescue or so it seems......Robert takes them to a bar which has no food and gets them drunk as he tells them stories about his childhood and his wife Caroline.
Later they run into Robert again and he invites them to his home so he can make up for the other night promising to feed them and introduce them to his wife. That's when ........it all begins........!
I will not give any more away, but Mary and Colin end up recapturing their love only to find themselves involved in something like the "Twilight Zone". I could not put this book down. The ending will amaze you!
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