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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Not half bad
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...
Published on 26 Jun 2008 by K. Bulcock

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27 of 28 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Warning - don't read whilst eating
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...
Published on 5 July 2007 by Four Violets


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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Fine Yarn, 18 Aug 2014
By 
Michael Farman (PALESTINE, TEXAS, US) - See all my reviews
This review is from: The Innocent (Paperback)
McEwan in fine form, doing what he does so well. Without giving too much of the plot away, I will say that at the heart of this novel he provides an acute, detailed, unflinching analysis of how two ordinary people try to cope with an extreme situation. Not for the squeamish, but a very well-crafted story nonetheless.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Very clever, 24 Jan 2014
By 
Julia Flyte - See all my reviews
(TOP 50 REVIEWER)   
This review is from: The Innocent (Paperback)
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. (While Leonard is a fictional character, the project was real). He acquires a German girlfriend, Maria - his first ever girlfriend - and settles into life in Berlin. However there are indications that things might be about to go wrong for him. His girlfriend's ex is a violent thug who shows up every now and then to beat her up. He has a mysterious neighbour who is showing too much interest in what Leonard is up to. And his boss is also all too interested in what is going on in Leonard's life.

I spent the first half of this book wondering where the book was going and why I was reading about such unpleasant characters. Then, around the halfway mark there is a major event which dramatically shifts the direction of events. The second half is much more of a thriller and the ending comes together in a very pleasing way. A cleverly crafted story, albeit with some descriptions of graphic violence.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Not for the Faint-Hearted, 26 Sep 2011
By 
Susie B - See all my reviews
(TOP 50 REVIEWER)   
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This review is from: The Innocent (Paperback)
Set in the mid-fifties and based on real events this unusual story centres around Leonard Marnham, a rather naïve twenty-five-year old Englishman who comes to the divided city of Berlin to work as part of a British-American undercover surveillance team. Whilst working on a top secret underground tunnelling project to tap the phone lines of the Russians, Leonard meets a beautiful German divorcee, Maria, in a night club and he quickly falls in love and loses his virginity. Leonard has never met anyone like Maria before and after a few months they become engaged. However, Leonard does not get the happy ending he planned as Maria's ex-husband is a violent, jealous man and one who is not fully prepared to let her go. In one evening, Leonard loses what is left of his innocence after he commits a violent act that turns his whole life upside down. Both Leonard and Maria struggle to cope with the aftermath of this tragic event - but it is what they subsequently decide to do to cover up their crime that is truly horrific and this dreadful act not only affects their immediate future, but has consequences that reverberate throughout the following years. I can't really add more to this without spoiling the story, but I should mention that there is a very gruesome section in this book where the author is exceptionally graphic in his description of the act committed by Leonard and Maria. I found this part of the book difficult to read - but that said, I could not put it down until I had finished it.

This is a cleverly written and intriguing novel which works on more than one level - it's part East-West spy thriller, part love story and part coming of age novel, deftly packaged into one. I have read several of Ian McEwan's novels in the past, enjoying some more than others, however this book is a bit different - it's certainly not for the faint-hearted, and if you do read it, I think you will understand exactly what I mean.

4 stars.
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29 of 36 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Awesome., 7 Sep 2001
By A Customer
This review is from: The Innocent (Paperback)
McEwan proves once more that he is far more than a flash in the pan. A stylish thriller that starts slowly but builds up to a roaring crescendo.
McEwan handles the main characters with cool sensitivity while drawing them to your hearts, in spite of their lapses into darkness.
Some of the author's narrative will truly have you on the edge of your seat and struggling to breathe with the raw tension that he evokes.
The finest book that McEwan has written, and that, as I'm sure you can imagine, is high praise indeed.
Read it.
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11 of 14 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Undecided, 29 Aug 2007
This review is from: The Innocent (Paperback)
I can't decide if I like this or not. I wouldn't say that I didn't enjoy it, because I did. Ian McEwan's talent with the english language is second to none. His ability to create a wholly imaginable scene is inspiring. Yet, with this book I just felt there was something missing.

I have read Saturday, Atonement and Enduring Love so far and this was my 4th and least favourite of those. Atonement being the best and a over all favourite.

It started of promising but then, I suppose I was expecting more of a conspiracy, instead it just flapped around the love story.

My main problem about this book is the main character. I can't bring myself to like him. I suppose that is subjective though.

If you have read and enjoyed McEwan before this, then I would reccomend it. If this is your first foray into the litery genius that is McEwan, I suggest you try Atonement first and then work your way upwards.
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15 of 19 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars mesmerisingly powerfull, 16 Feb 2000
By 
This review is from: The Innocent (Paperback)
I am reordering this book having lost a previous copy because it is an awesome tour de force that gives you a claustrophobic cold clammy feeling during it's darker passages and is totally uplifting during it's lighter moods. All of this weaved around an amazing (true) story line. BUY IT !
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38 of 49 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars From Innocent to Darkly Experienced, 22 Jan 2003
By 
taking a rest - See all my reviews
(HALL OF FAME REVIEWER)   
This review is from: The Innocent (Paperback)
Until this book, "The Innocent", written in 1989, I had only read more recent works by author Ian McEwan. He has been widely honored both in prizes that he had been nominated for, and in prizes he has won such as The Booker Prize, and the Somerset Maugham Award. If you are only familiar with his more recent work you may find yourself puzzled and disappointed as I was with this novel.
The kernel this book is built around is based on true historical events. There was a major intelligence gathering tunnel built to tap Soviet communication lines that was begun around 1953 and was abandoned when discovered by the Soviets in April of 1956. The novel begins as a Cold War spy genre book, adds a love story, and then veers off wildly in a direction worthy of a Quentin Tarantino film. Until the point I mention, I thought the book was a reasonably good read; however when the bizarre turn of events came about I only finished the book as I was close to the end and I was curious how the author would bring the whole novel to a close.
The author wrapped up his tale, again using a piece of history, but he did so in a manner that was as outlandish as the acts spawned by the final decisions of the protagonist, and made this portion of the book funny, even silly.
I have greatly enjoyed other work by Mr. McEwan and I will continue to read his new books and continue my way back through his earlier published tales. From my experience with what I have previously read, this is an anomaly for him, and I would not suggest it as a first venture in to this author's work.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Good, but not his best., 11 Oct 2009
By 
Ms. J. S. Tarr "JT" (UK) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: The Innocent (Paperback)
Having read a few McEwan novels and enjoying all of them I was keen to read another. The book is set in post-war Berlin and is an interesting insight in to life there from the perspective of a rather stiff British intelligence officer. When I picked up the book I was not expecting the story that unfolded which made it all the more enjoyable. Over all a really good book. Very effective.
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5 of 7 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The Innocent is Very Very Dark, 30 Jan 2009
By 
Simon Savidge Reads "Simon" (Manchester, UK) - See all my reviews
(TOP 1000 REVIEWER)   
This review is from: The Innocent (Paperback)
After finishing another Ian McEwan I am left officially in awe of his writing, its amazing. Having loved `The Cement Garden', `Atonement' and `On Chesil Beach' I have been waiting for a McEwan novel to let me down and was worried that as I had heard so little about `The Innocent' it might sadly disappoint. It didn't, it was brilliant.

The setting is Berlin in the mid 1950's, Leonard Marnham arrives `an innocent abroad' working for the British-American Surveillance Team, though he feels he is part of something bigger he never knows quite what and becomes a pawn in a international game. However the spy story is only really part of the whole book, `The Innocent' is also a tale of love. Marnham meets Maria in a bar after she sends him a drink, what follows is his first love affair, and a slight obsession, that leaves them bedridden only getting out to eat and occasionally wash and obviously to work. Maria is a dark character and has a history that she likes to keep secret. Two things change their relationship forever and as they do the book gets darker and darker.

From what appears to be a story of `Operation Gold' or `The Berlin Tunnel' (a true story of a CIA-MI6 collaboration that went wrong) McEwan creates a claustrophobic love story that becomes an obsession that then becomes possible one of McEwan's darkest tales (I didn't almost throw up as some people have according to their reviews, but it is quite grisly) taking you to a very desolate and desperate place.

It's a mammoth dark disturbing story, which is not what you would expect from the title or possible in so few pages and that to me is a sign of the mastery of McEwan. Now which one should I read next
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Starts well but loses the plot, 5 May 2012
This review is from: The Innocent (Paperback)
Although this is loosely based on a true bit of cold-war history -- the building of a tunnel from West to East Berlin, for the purpose of tapping into Soviet phone calls -- it isn't really a spy story, more the tale of a young Englishman on the edge of the spying business who has a romantic fling with a German woman. He ends up getting a lot more than he bargained for, but not because of the espionage business.
So I found it rather disappointing; I expected a spy thriller and ended up with a rather far-fetched love story involving, for no convincing reason, a dismembered body. As I didn't find any of the characters particularly appealing, I didn't really care what happened to them. In the end, the story fizzles away into nothing.
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The Innocent: Complete & Unabridged
The Innocent: Complete & Unabridged by Ian McEwan (Audio Cassette - Dec 1991)
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