Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Sweet Tooth

I enjoyed this book by Ian McEwan. My book group at the library discussed it this week, and while most people liked it, a few did not, thought it was totally unbelievable, didn't like the characters, etc. Some people were expecting a spy novel, since the main character is working for MI-5. A spy novel it is not, although it takes place during the Cold War of the 1970s.   The story begins with  Serena, a young woman in her twenties, who works as a low-level employee for MI-5, the British domestic counterintelligence agency.  Sweet Tooth is the code name for an undercover operation that will pay long-term stipends to up and coming writers with an anti-Communist bent,  under the guise of a shadowy literary 'foundation.'  Because she likes to read fiction, Serena is tasked with recruiting a young author, Tom Haley. Of course there is romance, and the two begin a relationship, with all the expected complications of deception.

There are so many layers of deception and betrayal in the book, and many twists and turns. I liked the cleverness of the story, and I appreciate McEwan's writing.  I liked that it is a 'literary' novel, with lots of references to books and authors, to the relationship between writer and reader. Snippets of Tom Haley's short stories are included too, 'stories within the story.' No spoilers, but the book is worth reading for the last chapter alone.

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