My rating: 2 of 5 stars
Sweet Tooth certainly pretends to be a spy novel, but is basically an inflated romance story between an extremely low-level MI5 paper-pusher Serena Frome, who gets the job right out of college and Tom Haley, an inspiring author.
Most of the story actually takes place after page 200 in a 301-page book. The reader will not have missed anything if choosing to start toward the end, and will likely be doing herself a favor for saving time. The words that come to mind are: mindless read, sappy, dull, non-espionage, and a disappointment. After such a good story in Atonement, I expected better.
In Sweet Tooth, however, Serena is hired by MI5 and is in charge of signing up a very young and undiscovered author by the name of Tom Haley in a cultural battle in the UK and Europe during the “soft Cold War” — as the writer puts it — during the years 1972-1974.
There are some historical references along the way and do add to the value. The story, however, is of a tone and voice of those far-too often published novels that are mere entertainment, which is not a bad thing–but this story simply falls short, as if the writer didn’t know where he was going with it.
The last chapter contains a cheap trick (foreshadows throughout the story) of a writer trying to reach versimilitude by negotiating the realms of the actual, which the writer does by having the last chapter as a long letter from Tom to Serena explaining that Tom knew everything about his undercover spy-lover.
Simply: I expected more out of this story. But, if you like easy reads about a love story with some red wine while on the couch with a fire going, then by all means go for it. But if you are looking for a hardcore spy novel, then you are in the wrong place.
CG FEWSTON is an American novelist who is a member of AWP, a member of Americans for the Arts, and a professional member and advocate of the PEN American Center, advocating for the freedom of expression around the world.
CG FEWSTON has travelled across continents and visited such places as Mexico, the island of Guam, Japan, South Korea, Hong Kong, Macau, Viet Nam, Cambodia, Singapore, Thailand, Taipei and Beitou in Taiwan, Bali in Indonesia, and Guilin and Shenzhen and Beijing in China. He also enjoys studying and learning French, Vietnamese, Cantonese and Mandarin.
CG FEWSTON earned an M.Ed. in Higher Education Leadership and Administration (honors), an M.A. in Literature (honors) from Stony Brook University, and an M.F.A. in Creative Writing and Fiction from Southern New Hampshire University, where he had the chance to work with wonderful and talented novelists, such as Richard Adams Carey (author of In the Evil Day, October 2015; and, The Philosopher Fish, 2006) and Jessica Anthony (author of Chopsticks, 2012; and, The Convalescent, 2010) as well as New York Times Best-Selling novelists Matt Bondurant (author of The Night Swimmer, 2012; and, The Wettest County in the World, 2009, made famous in the movie Lawless, 2012) and Wiley Cash (author of A Land More Kind Than Home, 2013; and, This Dark Road to Mercy, 2014).
Among many others, CG FEWSTON’S stories, photographs and essays have appeared in Sediments Literary–Arts Journal, Bohemia, Ginosko Literary Journal, GNU Journal (“Hills Like Giant Elephants”), Tendril Literary Magazine, Prachya Review (“The One Who Had It All”), Driftwood Press, The Missing Slate Literary Magazine (“Darwin Mother”), Gravel Literary Journal, Foliate Oak Magazine, The Writer’s Drawer, Moonlit Road, Nature Writing, and Travelmag: The Independent Spirit; and for several years he was a contributor to Vietnam’s national premier English newspaper, Tuoi Tre, “The Youth Newspaper.”
You can read more about CG FEWSTON and his writing at
A TIME TO LOVE IN TEHRAN won GOLD for Literary Classics’ 2015 best book in the category under ”Special Interest” for “Gender Specific – Female Audience”…
Finalist in the 2015 Chatelaine Awards for Romantic Fiction…
Finalist in the 2015 Mystery & Mayhem Novel Writing Contest…
Praise for A TIME TO LOVE IN TEHRAN:
“Fewston delivers an atmospheric and evocative thriller in which an American government secret agent must navigate fluid allegiances and murky principles in 1970s Tehran… A cerebral, fast-paced thriller.”
“A TIME TO LOVE IN TEHRAN is a thrilling adventure which takes place in pre-revolutionary Tehran. Author CG FEWSTON provides a unique glimpse into this important historical city and its rich culture during a pivotal time in its storied past. This book is so much more than a love story. Skillfully paired with a suspenseful tale of espionage, A TIME TO LOVE IN TEHRAN is a riveting study of humanity. Replete with turns & twists and a powerful finish, FEWSTON has intimately woven a tale which creates vivid pictures of the people and places in this extraordinary novel.”
CG FEWSTON‘s new novel,
A TIME TO LOVE IN TEHRAN, was published on April 2, 2015 —
10 years to the day of the publication
of his first novella, A FATHER’S SON (April 2, 2005)
“Thus one skilled at giving rise to the extraordinary
is as boundless as Heaven and Earth,
as inexhaustible as the Yellow River and the ocean.
Ending and beginning again,
like the sun and moon. Dying and then being born,
like the four seasons.”
found in Sources of Chinese Tradition, p 5
- Ian McEwan’s Writing Advice: Try Short Stories (mediabistro.com)
- Ian McEwan: On Making Love Work in Fiction (video) (aerogrammestudio.com)
- Best left to the imagination? (lovesweetandsinister.wordpress.com)
- Random Giveaway 4: A Signed Copy of Sweet Tooth by Ian McEwan (randomhouseindia.wordpress.com)
- Amis, Rushdie and McEwan appear together in NY (bigstory.ap.org)
- Book Review: Atonement (Ian McEwan) (smithka164.wordpress.com)
- SWEET TOOTH by Ian McEwan (cgfewston.me)
- Movie Review: Atonement (thediaryofellelee.wordpress.com)