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There are some historical references along the way and do add to the value.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.
- 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) (cgfewston.me)
- SWEET TOOTH by Ian McEwan (cgfewston.me)
- Movie Review: Atonement (thediaryofellelee.wordpress.com)
The American novelist CG FEWSTON has been a Visiting Scholar at the American Academy in Rome (Italy), a Visiting Fellow at Hong Kong’s CityU, & he’s a member of the Hemingway Society, Club Med, and the Royal Society of Literature. He’s also a Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts, Manufactures and Commerce (RSA) based in London.
He’s the author of several short stories and novels. His works include A Father’s Son (2005), The New America: A Collection (2007), The Mystic’s Smile ~ A Play in 3 Acts (2007), Vanity of Vanities (2011), A Time to Love in Tehran (2015), Little Hometown, America: A Look Back (2020); and forthcoming: Conquergood & the Center of the Intelligible Mystery of Being; A Time to Forget in East Berlin; and, The Endless Endeavor of Excellence.
He has a B.A. in English, an M.Ed. in Higher Education Leadership (honors), an M.A. in Literature (honors), and an M.F.A. in Creative Writing & Fiction. He was born in Texas in 1979.
You can follow the author on Facebook @ cg.fewston – where he has 450,000+ followers
“The American novelist CG FEWSTON tells a satisfying tale, bolstered by psychology and far-ranging philosophy, calling upon Joseph Campbell, J. D. Salinger, the King James Bible, and Othello.”
“In this way, the author lends intellectual heft to a family story, exploring the ‘purity’ of art, the ‘corrupting’ influences of publishing, the solitary artist, and the messy interconnectedness of human relationships.”
GOLD Winner in the 2020 Human Relations Indie Book Awards for Contemporary Realistic Fiction
FINALIST in the SOUTHWEST REGIONAL FICTION category of the 14th Annual National Indie Excellence 2020 Awards (NIEA)
“Fewston’s lyrical, nostalgia-steeped story is told from the perspective of a 40-year-old man gazing back on events from his 1980s Texas childhood…. the narrator movingly conveys and interprets the greater meanings behind childhood memories.”
“The novel’s focus on formative childhood moments is familiar… the narrator’s lived experiences come across as wholly personal, deeply felt, and visceral.”
American Novelist CG FEWSTON
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Stay safe & stay happy. God bless.
Nico Murillo Bio ~ Americans & Texans for Safe Access ~ Medical Cannabis