Sweet Tooth

Ian McEwan. Doubleday/Talese, $26.95 (304p) ISBN 978-0-385-53682-0
McEwan goes for laughs in this cold war spoof in which Serena Frome, one time math whiz, struggles through Cambridge and graduates in 1972 with an embarrassing third. For reasons never satisfactorily explained, a professor and former MI5 operative recruits her as a spy. Serena’s soon in love, not for the last time in the story, no matter that he’s 54, long married and sickly, or that she’s 21, gorgeous, and in a relationship. She’s a voracious reader, and her familiarity with contemporary fiction earns her an assignment to persuade a writer with anti-Soviet leanings to abandon academia and write full-time, supported by funding whose source he can never know. Espionage fans won’t find much that’s credible, and fans of political farce might be surprised by a narrative less focused on lampooning MI5 than on mocking (mostly female) readers. Given the nonstop wisecracks, the book might be most satisfying if read as sheer camp. A twist confirms that the misogyny isn’t to be taken seriously, but Serena’s intellectual inferiority is a joke that takes too long to reach its punch line. McEwan devotees may hope that in his next novel he returns to characterizations deeper than the paper they’re printed on. Agent: The Georges Borchardt Literary Agency. (Nov.)
Reviewed on: 08/13/2012
Release date: 11/13/2012
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FORMATS
Hardcover - 336 pages - 978-0-307-36334-3
Open Ebook - 400 pages - 978-0-307-36336-7
Open Ebook - 304 pages - 978-0-385-53683-7
Paperback - 978-0-224-09738-3
Open Ebook - 336 pages - 978-1-4481-3973-6
Hardcover - 527 pages - 978-1-4104-5441-6
Paperback - 336 pages - 978-0-307-36335-0
Paperback - 378 pages
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