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The Innocent

The Innocent [Kindle Edition]

Ian McEwan
4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (56 customer reviews)

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"To call The Innocent a spy novel would be like calling Lord of the Flies a boy's adventure ensure McEwan's major status" (Sunday Times)

"The sheer cleverness of the book is dazzling, and only fully to be appreciated as you turn the last page: but then cleverness is a real virtue here, the best guide possible to the questionable territory between innocence and whatever comes after" (London Review of Books)

"It's the most tightly plotted of Ian McEwan's novels, and to argue properly for its excellence would involve showing how the political and emotional themes are inseparable from its narrative ingenuity, the patterns of revelation and about-turn which mark its final pages" (Jonathan Coe Guardian)

"Generous in scale, simple in its hideous impact...Ironically, he has celebrated the obsequies of the East-West spy thriller by writing one of the subtlest" (Mail on Sunday)

"Deft, taut fiction... Many English writers have been compared to Evelyn Waugh, often wrongly, but this book can stand with the master's best" (The Times)

London Review of Books

‘The sheer cleverness of the book is dazzling, and only fully to be appreciated as you turn the last page...'

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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
27 of 28 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Warning - don't read whilst eating 5 July 2007
By Four Violets VINE VOICE
A spy story set in Berlin shortly after the end of the second world war - a romantic love story - a gruesome and revolting horror story (don't read whilst eating) - then the circle continues on back through spy to love story again. It was only after starting the book that I noticed another review recommended "don't read this as your first Ian McEwan". Probably wise advice; but I enjoyed it anyway and will certainly read more of his.
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Not half bad 26 Jun 2008
Having read Atonement and not got on with The child in Time, i decided to read a book of Ian McEwan's that was more off the beaten track. What i found was The Innocent. I throughly enjoyed it and i would recommend that for anyone who didn't get on too well with Ian McEwan's other books to read the Innocent.

It is a gripping tale about how an English man in cold war Berlin gradually losses his innocence. It is a light and short read which i thoroughly enjoyed.
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32 of 35 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A cold, cold war 9 April 2000
By A Customer
This is vintage McEwan. He describes the love affair with feeling and, I guess, from some experience. I liked the sharp contrast between the mechanics and bizarre logic of the Cold War and the unpredictability of human behaviour when it is allowed free reign. 50s Berlin is also beautifully evoked - Harry Lime's Vienna moved north. The novel has a neat and typically weird McEwan twist before its moving, sentimental denouement. Great reading - thoroughly recommended to fans and sceptics alike.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
By A Customer
The Innocent is a surprising book, combining the fascination of secret work in post war Berlin with a captivating story of love and sexual exploration The string of events which emanate from this background are all the more shocking because of the complete plausibility of the tale. The book reminded me of the Puzo novel Dark Arena in the setting of the backdrop, (although it cannot match the rawness and brutality of that story) and Hurry on Down for the frailty of the human emotion. Thoroughly enjoyable!
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23 of 26 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars a must-read! 3 Jan 2006
By A Customer
The first time I read this I had to put it down unfinished as I could not bear to discover the foreshadowed doom of the main character. It took me a year before I could gather the courage to start again and read the whole thing. Exaggerating? If you found Enduring Love moving, it's nothing compared to The Innocent!
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Wow! 16 Aug 2008
Yes wow what a book. I saw Atonement which was rubbish in my opinion and thought no not ever will I read one of his books and yet on the way to Hong Kong at LHR-T5 i was captivated by the book's cover and the basic story line which interests me anyway. Berlin post war is a sumptuous backdrop and this book delivers magnificently. I could hardly put it down and apart from the dismemberment pages was an absolute thill. So much so that I then bought Black Dogs which isn't half as good but after On Chesil Beach and Innocent I am raring to go with more of his work. Well done Ian.
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11 of 13 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars One of the best books I have read 22 Nov 2007
What a great read! Splendid in both form and content. A well constructed plot which starts with an easy read, but then it takes an interesting and unexpected turn. I bought it after reading "On Chesil Beach" which is only a short story, but which has got me hooked on the author. Recommeded. Dr Michael Rowlands
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10 of 12 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Gratuitous gore grates 22 Nov 2009
I had never read anything by McEwan but was sort of aware of his success. While living in Berlin in 2008/2009, I came across a translation in German of the novel and bought it mostly because it was set in Berlin and because it was translated from English to German and therefore, thought I, would be a little easier to handle for my still rusty German skills.

The first part of the novel was unexceptional. I found the characters a bit two-dimensional and was neither enamoured nor turned off by the story. But then it got to the blood and gore and frankly I had to skip a couple of pages because even though my German was rusty I could not read it without wanting to gag.

The middle part rather "coloured" the whole book for me and I shall hesitate before ever reading another of his works.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars book club read
Not a book i would choose to read, on the book club suggestions. I read it, however did not appeal to me a mixture of complete innocence/ immaturity with the main character, to him... Read more
Published 1 month ago by maggie
4.0 out of 5 stars Cold War Chills
Loved the sense of place in the history of BerlIn know well and it is full of suspense and gore in a tolerable way.
Published 4 months ago by Anny S
4.0 out of 5 stars McEwan at his most macabre
'The Innocent' is an interesting, well crafted and well researched novel, which presents a powerful evocation of post-war Berlin. Read more
Published 4 months ago by LilacLemon
2.0 out of 5 stars Never again
I find Ian's style of writing vivid and interesting with a well researched subject but why does he have to write about the dissection of the body in such great detail? Read more
Published 5 months ago by Catherine Nicholls
5.0 out of 5 stars An Englishman in Berlin
Amazing - you're led from tension to disaster, like Hilary Mantel's drowning of the baby in the canal. Page by page the awfulness unfolds - they can't really do that... can they?
Published 5 months ago by Deadhead Giles
4.0 out of 5 stars Very clever
Leonard, the titular "innocent", is a telephone technician who travels to Berlin in 1955 to work a secret project to intercept communications from the Russian embassy. Read more
Published 6 months ago by Julia Flyte
4.0 out of 5 stars A bit slow at first
.... but ultimately rewarding. Quite a moving and interesting story, and well written, as you would expect from this author.
Published 6 months ago by Granville
4.0 out of 5 stars Great Cold War Story
I am a fan of Ian McEwan and think that this is one of his best. I enjoyed it almost as much as his latesst 'Sweet Tooth; He writes with tremendous breadth of knowledge and the way... Read more
Published 9 months ago by Anthony S Norton
3.0 out of 5 stars Not bad but no relevance anymore
It was an interesting plot and generally well written but all history now. The description of the 'dismantling' of the body was gruesome and unnecessary.
Published 10 months ago by gaby mcguire
1.0 out of 5 stars read for book club
It is my first Ian McEwan book and I read it not by choice, but for a book club. I am German and have read a lot on this and relating sujets. Read more
Published 10 months ago by Lisa
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Caught in the turbulence of unacknowledged emotions, they tended to mask their uncertainty with aggression. &quote;
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And he knows they don’t know. He has something they don’t, he has a secret, and this is the beginning of his individuality, of his consciousness. If he wants to share his secret and run down the track to warn the other guys, then he’s going to need to invent language. From there grows the possibility of culture. Or he can hang back and hope the leopard will take out the leadership that’s been giving him a hard time. A secret plan, that means more individuation, more consciousness.’ &quote;
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He needed that time edged with boredom in which fantasy could flourish. &quote;
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