Actually I should have commas in the title because Sweet Tooth by Ian McEwan is a book initially about spies but more about love and really mostly about books, and writing them. Which some may call incestuous, but people who read books like books so why not?

Just before I took off for a short visit to Britain I asked on Google+ “OK, getting on the long flight to LHR in a few hours, and my queue of unread page-turners is empty. What's a can't-miss from recent months?” It worked well, and I ended up buying the two recommended by Richard Smith; this and Canada by Richard Ford, which I haven’t read yet.

Anyhow, the book is tremendously clever. I mean really extremely clever. There’s a surprise, too, foreshadowed blatantly mid-story; can you spot it? I didn’t.

As noted, there are spies; two of them young, charming, and female, a few extremely un-charming and male; also a glamorous young novelist, and while the love story starts very conventionally, it’s really well-told. And many of the episodes, both central and peripheral, shout out the experience of real life.

Then there’s the thing of McEwan assuming a female narrative voice, apparently with no loss of confidence. It bothered me a bit, but I think it’s safe to go along with it.

It was totally brilliant for a long airplane flight; unhesitatingly recommended for that purpose.


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From: Gavin B (Jan 25 2013, at 01:07)


Graham Greene writes of this novel that "I prefer it in many ways to The Third Man"


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