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  • Solar
  • Customer reviews

Well it's either Ian McEwan being a less than clear writer or me being dense and I humbly suppose it is the latter, but at least one third of this book went way over my head. However as it all sped by through the clouds a few sunbeams penetrated through and landed on me. Solar energy `lite' as explained and exploited by the waddling Bad Boy Beard became slightly more understandable as I read on. Luckily someone at a party told me that 'Solar' is meant to be a comedy just as I'd begun reading it which helped me get a grip.

I actually liked Beard and kept with the book mostly for his sheer effrontery, greed, optimism and naughtiness. I took to his daughter Catriona and I admired his wives. I enjoyed being part of his thought processes and felt an understanding sympathy with his hopeless behaviour. The surprise finding of his wife's dead lover and Beard's arrangement of the situation all made a sort of mad sense.

Ian McEwan never writes the same book twice and so you can't account for what he will come up with next. I will stick with him through thick and thin because of his hugely satisfactory earlier works but with the pickings becoming ever more slender for me, I just have to appreciate what he writes that I can `get'. This time it was the Physics Laureate Professor Michael Beard, the Chief, who for me had a certain kind of ghastly charm!
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on 4 February 2016
Unlike previous books by Ian McEwan I did not enjoy this, except in terms of having to see what happened in the end to ensure justice was done.
The quality of the writing is, as always, excellent and McEwan really brings to life his protagonist.
Michael Beard is a man who has peaked too soon in gaining his Nobel prize (and even that is on the coat tails of Einstein! Thereafter he becomes an idle, self-serving, self-obsessed person who doesn't really need to work and who exists by working the lecture circuit. He is driven by the pleasures of the flesh - women, food, drink, none of which ever satisfy him. He makes no genuine relationships and he exploits everyone he meets.
There is also an amoral aspect to his character which allows him to do the unthinkable without thought or regret. A deeply unpleasant man. The backstory of the search for a solution to Global warming is current if today in 2016 becoming a little out of date. Three points for the writing. One point for the endless detail.
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on 23 February 2015
I am a huge Ian McEwan fan and this was no disappointment. I definitely laughed out load and this is rare for me, the most I usually manage is a wry grin. The main character is a self deluded Professor who received a Nobel prize for physics. He is a womaniser and a glutton and there is little to like about him but somehow he never completely loses one's sympathy. As ever, the writing is superb as is the plotting which brings you home eventually.
One person found this helpful
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on 5 January 2015
Is my first McEwan. I absolutely loved it and think that it is hilarious and highly entertaining. Some excellent anecdotal jokes. As somebody with a science background, I found a lot of the scientific information to be very well researched and insightful in places. Some entertaining comments about the relative workloads of science and arts undergraduates ( always was a bit of a bugbear with me!). I don't think that the protagonist Michael Beard is quite as obnoxious as some people appear to claim. He clearly has a conscience and is not totally insensitive in the way he conducts his various relationships. The ending is a bit of an anti-climax, but this does not undermine the rest of the novel. Since reading Solar, I have gone on to read The Children Act, which is totally different in both approach and subject matter, and which I did not enjoy as much as Solar.
2 people found this helpful
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on 9 July 2013
Professor Beard is a Nobel prize-winning physicist whose best work is behind him, and he's a compulsive womaniser too.

Just as `Atonement' and `Enduring Love' did not disappoint the reader `Solar' is an impressive book too. Firstly, it gets inside contemporary and important green issues convincingly.

What surprised me though, is that the novel did not come alive until after first 100 pages, as other reviews agree. Before that, the Professor seems one-dimensional, and I didn't find any enjoyable writing until about page 102. After that, the author comes into his own superb self, and the story rollicks along richly, madly, absurdly.

The end result is a poignant portrait of a man who does not deserve to be loved, but who did want to change the world.
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on 3 April 2018
Ran out of steam after halfway point.
Enjoyed many Ian McEwan books but it is like author could not decide how develop plot to finish with this one! And the protagonist appears to have no redeeming features ...
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on 19 August 2014
I liked the wit and humour. I found the chunks of science boring and so I skipped all of that. The story was entertaining enough to keep going to the end, although I felt in the dark as to what it was really all about, other than Beard was developing Solar energy by using notes stolen from one of his researchers.

The ending was unfathomable. Truly weird and very much an anti climax. Which is why it lost 2 stars from me.
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on 4 August 2013
Not sure what I expected form this book, but I like it & would have completed reading at a single sitting if circumstances had permitted.
Without spoiling the story, it's based around a once high flyer who is seeking to develop an alternative energy source against the backdrop of a chaotic personal life. I don't know if Ian McEwan intended it, but I reckon it would form a good basis for a film script. It to me certainly has the "feel" of much of Michael Crichton's work (which all reads like a film script to me). If you like his stuff, I'm sure you'll like this.
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on 23 October 2017
Did not enjoy this book at all. The ‘hero’ is a totally unlkeable character and impossible to identify with. Boring, pretentious and a waste of precious reading time. Would give no stars if possible !
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on 12 November 2011
Ian McEwan is best when he describes in detail. The episode of the salt and vinegar crisps, having a pee in sub-zero temperatures, the cover-up of a crime - fanastic scenes. Overall, good, but not great. And I am a fan. I enjoyed it, I think the main character is extremely well drawn, but the plot sags a bit. If you want to read abour real scientists behaving badly, read "Free Radicals" by Michael Brooks.
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