Sweet Tooth.

Author:McEwan, Ian
Position:Book review

By Ian McEwan

Ian McEwan is the internationally acclaimed author of a dozen novels, including Atonement (2001), the Booker Prize-winning Amsterdam (1998), and Saturday (**** SELECTION May/June 2005), among others. Sweet Tooth, his 15th work of fiction, is both a love letter to the novel and a spy story.


THE STORY: In 1972 Great Britain, Cambridge student Serena Frome, smart, beautiful, and an avid reader, attracts the attention of MI5. Finding her the perfect fit for the job, the British spy agency soon recruits her for a Cold War operation codenamed Sweet Tooth. The government is combatting Communism by financially supporting writers with Western-friendly stances on the ideology. When Serena is tasked with recruiting rising novelist Tom Haley to the cause by posing as a representative of a grant-giving foundation, she soon falls in love with him. Wracked with guilt over the deception, can she keep her motivations secret?

Nan A. Talese. 320 pages. $26.95. ISBN: 978-0385536820

Slate ****

"Even the sensitive, artistically attuned, intellectually sophisticated male writer sees a woman in a very different way than she would see herself. The gap McEwan investigates is enormous and fascinating, and if we truly want to understand sexual politics, we need to read, instead of ironic blogs and Caitlin Moran and faux sociology, more novels like this one." KATIE ROIPHE

Financial Times ****

"[T]his is a sublime novel about novels, about writing them and reading them and the spying that goes on in doing both. ... The novel's structure is very impressive, with layer upon layer of writers and spies, past and present, and stories inside stories." LUCY KELLAWAY

NY Times Book Review ***

"Sweet Tooth ... is definitely mature McEwan, intermittently funny and much more sweet than bitter, about as entertaining as a very intelligent novel can be and vice versa. ... McEwan has always been a good old-fashioned teller of tales, and the suspense and surprises in this book are well engineered." KURT ANDERSEN

NPR ****

"Readers will be happy to know that Sweet Tooth shares more with Atonement than with Solar, McEwan's disappointing previous novel--including a female protagonist and concerns with love, betrayal, doubt and the relationship between literature and truth. ... But where Atonement compels on every level, from its country house opening to its war and hospital scenes, Sweet Tooth is most satisfying after its final revelations." HELLER...

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