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The Comfort Of Strangers

The Comfort Of Strangers [Kindle Edition]

Ian McEwan
3.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (54 customer reviews)

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"As the best young writer on this island, McEwan's evocations of feeling and place and his analysis of mood and relationship remain haunting and compelling."--"The Times" "As always, McEwan manages his own idiom with remarkable grace and inventiveness; his characters are at home in their dreams, and so is he."--"Guardian" "His writing is exact, tender, funny, voluptuous, disturbing."--"The Times" "The Maestro."--"New Statesman" "McEwan has--a style and a vision of life of his own...No one interested in the state and mood of contemporary Britain can afford not to read him."--John Fowles "A sparkling and adventurous writer."--Dennis Potter "Haunting and compelling." -"The Times" "McEwan, that master of the taciturn macabre, so organizes his narrative that, without insisting anything, every turn and glimpse is another tightening of the noose. The evils of power and the power of evil are transmitted with a steely coolness, and in a prose that has a feline grace." -"Observer" "From the Trade Paperback edition."


'As always, McEwan manages his own idiom with remarkable grace and inventiveness...'

Product details

  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • File Size: 221 KB
  • Print Length: 112 pages
  • Publisher: Vintage Digital; New Ed edition (11 Mar 2010)
  • Sold by: Amazon Media EU S.à r.l.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B00354YA36
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Average Customer Review: 3.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (54 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #14,976 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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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.

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
73 of 74 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Macabre but brilliant 15 Jun 2007
`The Comfort of Strangers', McEwan's second novel was published at a time when this bright new talent was causing controversy and had been christened Ian Mcabre by critics shocked by the brutality of his themes and his fearless exploration of dark, previously taboo subjects such as incest, sadomasochism and child abduction. With its theme of unhealthy homoerotic obsession there are echoes of the later Enduring Love here. The story opens with a coldly voyeuristic intrusion into the lives of Colin and Mary, an English couple holidaying in an unnamed European city (assumed to be Venice) in an attempt to recapture the passion that has drained out of their relationship. When we join them they are distant from each other, not speaking and sleeping in separate beds. This gulf is apparent in the fact that even their dreams are at odds. Wandering the city in a torpor late one night they encounter Robert, a smooth talking, cruel and sinister local who seems to mesmerize them against their better instincts and takes them to a seedy bar nearby. Despite being unsettled by the encounter they are persuaded by Robert to visit his home the next day. Here they meet Caroline, his put-upon Canadian wife and quickly detect that something is seriously amiss. It soon becomes clear that the gap between these couples is not as wide as it initially appears. Without a doubt Colin and Mary are complicit in their own downfall and their desires, though previously unrealised, are as unwholesome as those of Robert and Caroline. One theme explored is the impact of fathers on children. Robert speaks of the admirable brutality of his father and Caroline, who defines herself only in relation to men, explains the subservience of her mother and herself to her diplomat father, a pattern repeated in their own relationship. Read more ›
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31 of 32 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Wonderfully written and shockingly haunting... 28 Jan 2006
By LisaR
Being an Ian McEwan fan I couldn't wait to read this. It only took me one sitting and as always was very readable and totally engrossing - causing mounting fear and tension like only McEwan knows how to, with nothing in particular happening but an increasing sensation that something is about to (how does he do that?!). The book is set in Venice which adds to the calm mystique and general atmosphere of the story. The end was shocking - I felt quite sick after reading it. This is definitely one of McEwan's most twisted and chilling reads and I couldn't quite work out whether I had enjoyed it or not. Recommended although definitely not my favourite by the author.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Superficial and dreary 12 Oct 2012
This novel attracted excellent reviews and I admire Ian McEwan, so I was really looking forward to reading this.

BUT - the main characters are puppet-like and superficial, living in a permanent daze. The way they are described is similarly detached and it is hard to sympathise with any characters or the way they behave.

And the plot is quite ridiculous and can be summarised in one sentence, as other reviewers here have mentioned.

Sorry - I didn't feel that this book can be described as 'macabre' or chilling. It was simply a dull description of what happened to a weak and emotionless couple in Venice (though it could be anywhere) and it's hard for the reader to even care. Not worth the effort.
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15 of 17 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Short, psychological and sinister 27 Sep 2003
'The Comfort of Strangers' at 100 pages long is an excellent thriller. It starts off subtly with a couple holidaying in Venice but rapidly becomes dark, twisted and chilling. McEwan writes extremely well, capturing the mood and emotions of the characters perfectly and depicting the darker side of human nature. It is an excellent book to get into Ian McEwan with before tackling his more famous works like Enduring love and Atonement. Read in one sitting 'The Comfort of Strangers' will get your adrenalin running and scare you witless. Buy it and read it next time you have two or three hours to kill.
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35 of 42 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Toe-curlingly embarrassing 11 Oct 2010
I have been a great fan of Ian McEwan's novels for many years and I came across The Comfort of Strangers completely unaware that it was one of his early efforts. I started it full of the expectation which I naturally reserve for a favourite writer.

I hadn't got far into it before the alarm bells started ringing.

Quick plot summary. Two very strange and stupid people go on holiday and meet two lunatics who do really horrible things to them for no apparent reason.

Colin and Mary are on holiday in Venice. For some bizarre reason the name of the city is never mentioned, and given that there is literally nowhere else on this earth that it could possibly be, it comes across as a particularly pompous literary device. Anyway, Colin and Mary are not speaking and we never find out why. They are preparing for their ritual evening of cocktails followed by dinner. They seem vague, detached, disinterested and bored. At the time I thought that this could be interesting as there is so much not said but having waded through this turgid tome I don't feel it's much of spoiler to advise you not to hold your breath.

Well, anyway, for no apparent reason they suddenly forgive each other and decide to make love (and what a lacklustre event this is) which delays their plans for the evening. Now here the author would have us believe that all the restaurants in one of the top tourist destinations in the world are closed by 9pm. Colin and Mary know this too but they go out anyway. They have been lost many times before but they don't take the maps. (What?) And what happens? Yes, they get lost!

They meet a stranger called Robert who won't stop touching them - so much that they both ask him to stop. They go to a gay bar with him.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars The comfort of strangers
Good read had read others of his before and went back to read earlier novels. Rating done in relation to his other books would recommend to friends.
Published 1 month ago by Paula Nicholls
5.0 out of 5 stars Horrific
A curious sense of ennui pervades this story, as if they are caught in some hypnotic trance. The characters, at first remote, gain our sympathy which makes the ending even more... Read more
Published 3 months ago by irene
5.0 out of 5 stars unusual story, compelling
saw the film and wanted to read the book, did not disappoint! Couldn't put it down, a little short but enjoyable!
Published 4 months ago by sharon denham
3.0 out of 5 stars The comfort of strangers
Well written, as ever with this author, but an odd story that did not grip me: more menace required ? Read more
Published 4 months ago by Laddie
2.0 out of 5 stars What Comfort?
In general I think the style of writing paints vivid pictures in my mind of people and places. The story line is unconventional but unpleasant and left me feeling why did I read... Read more
Published 5 months ago by Catherine Nicholls
4.0 out of 5 stars Christmas gift
As yet this is still unread. A Christmas gift along with a few other books, of which it was on my wish list, very pleased.
Published 6 months ago by Claire Sturrock
2.0 out of 5 stars as bad as the film
why they made a movie about this book is beyond me...very dry and at times sinister...if you like that thing.
Published 6 months ago by escorial
1.0 out of 5 stars Disappointing
Short book, quality of the writing good but content rather shocking and outcome predicable from early on. Very disappointing. Read as a book club, sorry I wasted the money on it.
Published 7 months ago by M R V WALLER
5.0 out of 5 stars The Comfort of Strangers.
An avid reader of Ian McEwan - can't put a foot wrong in my book! Great reading at a Great price. - Thank you Amazon
Published 10 months ago by Susan M. Moursi
3.0 out of 5 stars A good easy read. Not what I expected.
Enjoyed this book as a simple easy read. The twist was a little left field though. Not what I expected.
Published 14 months ago by Mrs. S. A. Gibbons
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Popular Highlights

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Travelling is a brutality. It forces you to trust strangers and to lose sight of all that familiar comfort of home and friends. You are constantly off balance. Nothing is yours except the essential things – air, sleep, dreams, the sea, the sky – all things tending towards the eternal or what we imagine of it. &quote;
Highlighted by 7 Kindle users
to have leisure to be open and attentive to perception, to the world whose breathtaking, incessant cascade against the senses was so easily and habitually ignored, dinned out, in the interests of unexamined ideals of personal responsibility, efficiency, citizenship, to step down there now, just walk away, melt into the shadow, would be so very easy. &quote;
Highlighted by 4 Kindle users
and with each step the city would recede as they locked tighter into each other’s presence. &quote;
Highlighted by 4 Kindle users

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