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Solar Paperback – 14 Oct 2010

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Product details

  • Paperback: 304 pages
  • Publisher: Jonathan Cape (14 Oct. 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0224093568
  • ISBN-13: 978-0224093569
  • Product Dimensions: 14.5 x 2.3 x 22.9 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (235 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 424,575 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Ian McEwan is a critically acclaimed author of short stories and novels for adults, as well as The Daydreamer, a children's novel illustrated by Anthony Browne. His first published work, a collection of short stories, First Love, Last Rites, won the Somerset Maugham Award. His novels include The Child in Time, which won the 1987 Whitbread Novel of the Year Award, The Cement Garden, Enduring Love, Amsterdam, which won the 1998 Booker Prize, Atonement, Saturday and On Chesil Beach.

Product Description


`a novel that promises comedy as well as crisis' --The Guardian

`McEwan has already aired extracts ... and the warmth, humour and zest of the book were unmistakable'
--Sunday Times

"Sizzling lucidity distinguishes this enormously entertaining novel... poised between the heart-warming and heart-stopping... scarcely a page fails to dazzle." -- The Sunday Times

"... in Solar, [McEwan] shows... a puckishness, a broadness of humour, an extravagance of style - that we haven't seen before."
-- Spectator

"From an early stage, [McEwan's] sumptuously textured language rested on a flair for finely engineered design." --The Independent

"McEwan is in many ways the closest thing we have to a national novelist... [Solar] will come to be regarded as a classic." --Daily Telegraph

"Vivacious and sprawling, a beautifully and compellingly written novel...McEwan's achievement is the brilliant creation of a flawed, larger than life character who all but walks off the page to shake your hand." --The Times

"This is an absorbing, accomplished, instructive, and very funny novel bye one of fiction's most fecund minds." --Country Life

"McEwan's reputation as one of Britain's greatest living writers remained safely intact." --Sunday Express

"McEwan excels at climate science but his protagonist makes you shudder." --The Observer

"he's green and he should be read." -- The Observer The Observer

"A sensitive study of selfishness versus altruism" --Mail on Sunday Live Magazine

"an ambivalent, comic picaresque of cunning and subtle wisdom ... McEwan's established readers will enjoy it, as will everyone else, not only for the humour but for many moments of eerie truth" --Irish Times

"...the overarching plot pulls off a clinching novelistic coup, using comedy to sneak grimmer matters past the reader's defences." --The Guardian Review

"Climate-change comedy that's every bit as brilliant as its title suggests" --Sunday Times: Culture

"A sharp, satirical tale" --Grazia

"among the best and most entertaining of McEwan's books" --The Lady

"This is an entertaining book and there are, as always, exquisite moments of observation" -- The Tablet

"the best Ian McEwan I've read so far" -- Farm Lane Books blog

"reliably entertaining" -- Literary Review

`masterful prose' --Time Out

`...avoids the problem of how to dramatise an emotive area of science by... effectively deploying a sly streak of comedy.' --Metro

"Solar has an engagingly direct, bleakly comic view of science and scientists. It also convinces." --TLS

`superbly written... Solar radiates joy from start to finish and is never less than entertaining. --Tatler

`Fascinating' --The Spectator

'A Booker contender, for sure' -- Cara- Enjoy Your Flight

Excellent...the turn here is new and interesting. -- The New Yorker Review, Michael Wood

The science doesn't take over the story, but it gives it necessary body and depth. --

McEwan has researched his topic thoroughly and environmentalists will find much to enjoy here. -- The Environmentalist, Reviews

Solar raises a fundamental, and tropical, point - how we race (or slowly plod) to reverse climate change. --

Ian McEwan's venture into comedy for his latest novel, Solar, is a triumph. -- The Environmentalist, Reviews

`I love just about all the books of his... his latest novel, which I'm reading now, is every bit as good as his previous work.' -- Daily Express, Gerald Scarfe

`McEwan's first overtly comic novel promises sunshine on several fronts'

`McEwan is on top form in an exuberant and comic tale'. --The Sunday Times

`Human beings are frail, Mother Nature is implacable - and old McEwan is as bleakly entertaining as ever.' --The Times

`Hugely entertaining and the deserved winner of the Bollinger Everyman Wodehouse Prize for Comic Fiction'

`Absorbing, comic and hugely enjoyable.'
--Daily Express

'Blazing with imaginative and intellectual energy, Solar is a stellar performance.' --The Sunday Times, Peter Kemp --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

Book Description

An engrossing, satirical and very funny new novel about climate change

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Customer Reviews

3.1 out of 5 stars

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Mr. Timothy W. Dumble on 14 July 2011
Format: Paperback
Politics,physics and environmentalism are unlikely comedy bed partners but it is testimony to McEwan's ability that he has woven all three into an hilarious and dark satire which conveys an equally serious message about the mentality of humankind. Michael Beard is a convincingly real figure uncomfortably familiar to the reader at times,the personification of Humankind,self indulgent,unable to control his self destructive visceral urges,unable to save himself let alone the World.'Solar' is a powerful indictment of modern consumerism in which Beard lives for the moment, a sybarite seeking the short cut to success and hapiness,an amoral shadow of his former self.

Fans of McEwan should be warned that 'Solar' represents a very different read to some of his other work eg 'Amsterdam', Saturday' or 'On Chesil Beach'. The authentic and well researched science might not be to the taste of all readers although non scientists should persevere as they will enjoy the arts v science theme developed hilariously within.What it does contain however are many examples of McEwan's familiar talent in the art of the simile alongside a previously less demonstrated ability to deliver comic one liners with panache- none better than the dead polar bears quip.

Justice is seen to be done in the denouement with Beard's hubris and self delusion unravelling with comic results-will we also have time to experience a similar ephiphany with respect to global warming?Beard's inevitable demise is deliciously ironic coming as it will from his beloved solar photons.In the flawed humanity of Michael Beard 'Solar' asks how can we save the world when we can't even look after ourselves?
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Auntie Deadly on 18 Mar. 2011
Format: Kindle Edition
I didn't dislike this book; it's topical and funny. Ian McEwan has been criticised for taking a lot of artistic licence with the scientific theory, but I think that's fine. It's a work of fiction, after all, not a doctoral thesis. Beard is a strong enough central character and although the plot is lacking, the pace is good. But it does read like a series of metaphors in search of a story.

After many marital infidelities Beard is about to divorce his fifth wife. But on discovering that she doesn't appear to care and is, in fact, having an affair of her own, he develops an obsession with her and changes his mind. A Nobel Laureate, he hasn't done any serious science since winning his prize, but his name still spells fund money in the scientific world and he is not short of lucrative offers of one sort or another. He takes a high profile assignment with a government funded initiative committed to enlisting the public in the search for ideas to combat global warming.

He continues to obsess about his wife, but he lacks the emotional depth necessary to win her back. In a final bid to rid himself of his fixation he accepts an offer to join a group of climate change activists on an expedition to the Arctic Circle. He is ill-equipped, being fat, alcoholic, anti-social and completely uninterested in climate-change. He finds himself the only scientist in a group of artists, no climate changing ideas are forthcoming and everyone mislays their arctic outdoor gear, and so steals other people's, on a daily basis. Yes, you've guessed, it's a metaphor for global warming and the way in which we fail to take care of the resources which are most important to us. Very heavy handed on the metaphor front, but still a funny piece of prose.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By JaneyF on 22 April 2011
Format: Paperback
A perfect book for the beach as one can easily get immersed and entertained and equally easily put it down, saunter off and pick up a drink.

In many ways Beard, the protagonist, is dislikable as other reviewers have noted but Ian McEwan's tight and incredibly detailed writing means that the reader has huge insight into Beard's personality and not many characters ficitional or otherwise would emerge entirely likable under such scrutiny. I genuinely didn't find him as repugnant as others seemed to, in fact the cliff-hanger ending left me rooting for him and irritated that there wasn't a more decisive ending, many times in the book I felt genuine sympathy for him. He is clearly unprincipalled and makes at least two appalling decisions but then most people have at some stage; just not on this flagrantly morally bankrupt scale and this is presumably the allegory on global warming and our own part in it. I can't quite hate him.

It is McEwan's writing style that I particularly enjoy - sentences which you want to savour; the small nuances making the humour through the mundane and sometimes requiring a minute amount of unravelling giving you a small pinging satisfaction similar to having solved a crossword clue.

Sometimes this book made me laugh out loud and it constantly kept me engaged and I only wish I really knew what happened to the protagonist when the book closes - a little blurb on Wikipedia would be very helpful on this front!
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50 of 55 people found the following review helpful By Jeremy Williams on 17 Jan. 2011
Format: Paperback
Solar tells the story of Michael Beard, an overweight and aging physicist who won the Nobel prize twenty years ago and hasn't had an interesting idea since. He plays on his fame and drifts between speaking engagements and sinecures, his private life is a disastrous series of failed marriages.

That all changes when a freak accident leaves him in possession of a file full of brilliant ideas from a young post-grad, and claiming the work as his own, Beard sets out to build a new technology that will single-handedly solve the world's energy crisis and stop climate change.

I won't spoil it for you by saying any more about the story - not that there is much of a story. Like the protagonist, Solar sort of bumbles along, following Beard to the Arctic and back, to conferences, lectures, bored nights in motel rooms, until it suddenly picks up at the end as Beard's various mistakes all suddenly begin to catch up with him all at once.

Michael Beard is such a thoroughly unlikeable character that I nearly gave up halfway through, but there are enough flashes of humour or interesting observations about human nature to make it worth persevering. It's not a great book - the reviewers panning it here have a point. Much of the book is mundane, well written but rather empty and moping. Nothing of any real interest happens until a good third of the way in, and the ending is somewhat contrived. Nevertheless, it's a satire and McEwan is attempting something rather bold - exploring climate change through the lens of human nature. Read that way, I think McEwan pulls it off, although I do wonder what his established fans will make of it.
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