Sweet Tooth

Ian McEwan. Doubleday/Talese, $26.95 (304p) ISBN 978-0-385-53682-0
McEwan goes for laughs in this cold war spoof in which Serena Frome, one time math whiz, struggles through Cambridge and graduates in 1972 with an embarrassing third. For reasons never satisfactorily explained, a professor and former MI5 operative recruits her as a spy. Serena’s soon in love, not for the last time in the story, no matter that he’s 54, long married and sickly, or that she’s 21, gorgeous, and in a relationship. She’s a voracious reader, and her familiarity with contemporary fiction earns her an assignment to persuade a writer with anti-Soviet leanings to abandon academia and write full-time, supported by funding whose source he can never know. Espionage fans won’t find much that’s credible, and fans of political farce might be surprised by a narrative less focused on lampooning MI5 than on mocking (mostly female) readers. Given the nonstop wisecracks, the book might be most satisfying if read as sheer camp. A twist confirms that the misogyny isn’t to be taken seriously, but Serena’s intellectual inferiority is a joke that takes too long to reach its punch line. McEwan devotees may hope that in his next novel he returns to characterizations deeper than the paper they’re printed on. Agent: The Georges Borchardt Literary Agency. (Nov.)
Reviewed on: 08/13/2012
Release date: 11/13/2012
Show other formats
Hardcover - 323 pages - 978-0-307-36334-3
Paperback - 323 pages - 978-0-307-36335-0
Hardcover - 370 pages - 978-0-09-957878-9
Hardcover - 384 pages - 978-0-09-958203-8
Hardcover - 978-1-4713-4357-5
Hardcover - 978-1-4713-4358-2
Open Ebook - 400 pages - 978-0-307-36336-7
Open Ebook - 187 pages - 978-0-385-53683-7
Paperback - 323 pages - 978-0-224-09738-3
Open Ebook - 384 pages - 978-1-4481-3973-6
Hardcover - 527 pages - 978-1-4104-5441-6
Paperback - 400 pages
Hardcover - 10 pages - 978-1-84657-370-5
Stay ahead with
Tip Sheet!
Free newsletter: the hottest new books, features and more
Only $18.95/month for Digital Access
or $20.95 for Print+Digital Access!
Only $18.95/month for Digital Access
or $20.95 for Print+Digital Access!
Email Address


Log In Lost Password

PW has integrated its print and digital subscriptions, offering exciting new benefits to subscribers, who are now entitled to both the print edition and the digital editions of PW (online or via our app). For instructions on how to set up your accout for digital access, click here. For more information, click here.

The part of the site you are trying to access is now available to subscribers only. Subscribers: to set up your digital subscription with the new system (if you have not done so already), click here. To subscribe, click here.

Email pw@pubservice.com with questions.

Not Registered? Click here.