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Effective, efficient, and evocative,
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This review is from: Sweet Tooth (Hardcover)
Forty years ago, life in Britain was even worse than it is now. The British secret service was snobbish and paranoid about enemies of the state, and even a clever and beautiful girl fresh from Cambridge was hard pressed to carve out a career that rose above dreary office routine. From this unlovely mix, Ian McEwan has crafted a novel that works impressively well. His prose is smooth without being distracting, his orchestration of the plot is tidy and efficient, and his evocation of the mood of the times is, as I can attest, entirely credible. The girl whose drama we follow is naive in the manner of those years but engaging, as a gathering storm of literary scandal casts a gloomy spell over this chronicle of a reckless love affair.
Some of McEwan's early books were fairly forgettable, for me, but since his classic novel Atonement he has been in fine form, with Saturday and Solar as excellent additions to the corpus, and this new effort shows him at his best. The natural comparison to make is with his longtime friend Martin Amis, whose strange and fizzy concoctions defeat all contenders judged as heady draughts but leave bitter aftertastes in the cold light of the morning after. By contrast, McEwan is not too proud to work at plotting his books carefully and at making them realistic in the ways that count for anyone with a more sober appreciation of the hard facts of life in bygone Britain. Sweet Tooth would make a good little movie for a new starlet.