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TOP 1000 REVIEWERon 21 July 2015
Nominally, this is an espionage novel tracing the career of narrator Serena Frome who joins - a rather chauvinistic - MI5 from university in the 1970s. It is far more, however, a novel about love, literature and the characters, even if there is a classic thriller type twist waiting for the reader at the end. Frome ends up running an agent who has been talented spotted as an author able to produce helpful propaganda and who, in his depiction as a young author, looks rather like a young Ian McEwan himself. Indeed McEwan has called the novel "a muted and distorted autobiography", although presumably the tale of how the author is recruited as an agent and then things start to go wrong is all fiction.

All very enjoyable.
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on 15 July 2013
Set in the early seventies, this is not a conventional spy story, since the operation is so low low-key, and as the narrator, Serena Frome, says in the opening paragraph, it failed and ruined her lover in the process. The interesting part is how and this is revealed with a flawless sense of pace. The themes are love, literature, deception and attitudes to women at that time but they don't get in the way of a good story. Serena hurtles through life, not always likeable, but always fascinating in her passion for literature and men in equal measure. She says she likes straightforward storytelling, and this book seems to deliver that, but there is a twist at the end that perhaps she wouldn't like, but made sense to me.
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on 20 January 2017
This is the first book of McEwen I read and found it quite confusing at time. I seen to loss my way and had to go back to the beginnings. Sorry it not a book I would commented to my friend.
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on 23 July 2017
A fascinating read for those of us who just about remember the wonderful world of the early 1970s. I loved the twist in the final chapter giving us a different perspective. One of McEwan's best novels.
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on 29 October 2017
Really enjoyed this book. Easy read, very entertaining
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on 21 September 2017
happy with the audio cd,excellent condition
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on 18 July 2017
Perfect, really good.
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on 18 May 2015
Too contrived and not Ian McEwan's usual high standard
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on 26 October 2017
Having a female lead character was not always convincing but the pace of a he story seemed to mirror the pace of finding and verifying the real world of espionage. Worth reading but don’t expect the same level of writing as in ‘Atonement ‘.
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on 24 September 2014
Could not put it down. Ian McEwan can write a terrific story
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