SWEET TOOTH (2012) by Ian McEwan

Sweet ToothSweet Tooth by Ian McEwan

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.

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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.

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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There are some historical references along the way and do add to the value.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.

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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.

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6 responses to “SWEET TOOTH (2012) by Ian McEwan

  1. Pingback: Atonement (2001) by Ian McEwan | C.G. Fewston·

  2. First off I want to say excellent blog! I had a
    quick question that I’d like to ask if you don’t mind.

    I was interested to find out how you center yourself
    and clear your mind prior to writing. I have had difficulty clearing my thoughts in getting my ideas out.
    I do take pleasure in writing however it just seems like the
    first 10 to 15 minutes are generally lost just trying to
    figure out how to begin. Any ideas or hints? Thanks!

  3. Its like you read my mind! You appear to know so much about this, like you wrote the book in it or something.
    I think that you could do with some pics to drive the
    message home a bit, but instead of that, this is excellent blog.
    A fantastic read. I will certainly be back.

  4. Pingback: Nutshell (2016) by Ian McEwan & Dreams had in a Mother’s Womb | CG FEWSTON·

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