[467]: Sweet Tooth by Ian McEwan

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GOODREADS SUMMARY | Vintage | May 9th, 2013 |
| Paperback, 384 pages | Adult Fiction
| Historical | Romance |Rating: 3 out of 5 Stars


Let’s see… MI5. Spy fiction. Historical. Written by a critically acclaimed author. I knew going in that I’m a little bit over my head with this novel. But I’ve always been a believer of trying new things, and while McEwan is a pretty popular author in the literary circle, this is my introduction to his world.

His writing is something that one needs to get used to in order to fully appreciate what you’ve signed up for. Unfortunately for me, the formality of his narrative couldn’t keep me drawn into the story.

Your mission, should you choose to accept it…

It’s the 70s, the Cold War is in full swing, and close to home, Britain is under civil unrest. Serena Frome didn’t have a clue what she wants to do in her life. English Literature is out, since her mother – one of feminist values – dissuaded her against taking the lazy way out. After a stint in Cambridge majoring in maths, a number of forces and influences would land her a position in Britain’s covert intelligence agency.  Unexpectedly, she’ll find out that a former lover was recruiting her all along.

Her first mission was Sweet Tooth; an operation which focuses on finding the ten best writers England has to offer, but would have to have proven skepticisms about the developing Eastern utopias in Europe. Her path would cross with one Tom Haley; a writer she’s commissioned to pursue. Serena, being a compulsive reader, soon starts to fall in love with his work, then with the man.

Of course she kept him in the dark about a lot of things. Least of all, why the struggling writer was all of a sudden flushed with money. She kept her real employment a secret, but in the end, she’ll discover that Tom Haley is harbouring secrets of his own.

This message will self-destruct in 3…2..

Spy fiction! I’ve never read something like this before…not that Sweet Tooth was one. Unfortunately, this is not in the scale of Ian Fleming’s type of work. Or the more modern, Ludlum. In fact, the mission was kind of lame. MI5 created a top secret operation in which they will support the livelihoods of ten writers in the hopes that they’ll write something significant in the future. A bit like propaganda against the rising powers of the Red countries. But what a complete waste of resources! Considering what kind of literature their chosen writers were writing, and how painstakingly long it would take for the whole of England to take notice. Talk about a slow return on investment.

It wouldn’t have been so bad if the novel was a psychological thriller, because then, the mission would make more sense. But since the focal point was on Serena’s romantic entanglements, this book would’ve been better off marketed as romance. The entire thing felt too hopelessley contrived to make it believable. That twist in the end did nothing to stave off the boredom I felt while reading this book. Some may find Tom’s secrets to be quite interesting, but for me, it neither enhanced it nor did the story suffer with its inclusion.

I should’ve chosen Atonement for my induction to his work. If Ian McEwan is capable of writing fluff, I’m thinking this is his version of one.