Publisher: Anchor

Short & Sweet – Atonement by Ian McEwan

July 13, 2013 Bonnie Adult, Book Reviews, Read in 2013, Short & Sweet Reviews 7 Comments

Short & Sweet – Atonement by Ian McEwanAtonement by Ian McEwan
Published by Anchor on February 25th 2003
Pages: 351
Genres: Contemporary, Literary Fiction, Romance
Format: Paperback
Source: Purchased
Amazon
Goodreads

Also by this author: Sweet Tooth

five-stars

Ian McEwan’s symphonic novel of love and war, childhood and class, guilt and forgiveness provides all the satisfaction of a brilliant narrative and the provocation we have come to expect from this master of English prose.

On a hot summer day in 1934, thirteen-year-old Briony Tallis witnesses a moment’s flirtation between her older sister, Cecilia, and Robbie Turner, the son of a servant and Cecilia’s childhood friend. But Briony’s incomplete grasp of adult motives—together with her precocious literary gifts—brings about a crime that will change all their lives. As it follows that crime’s repercussions through the chaos and carnage of World War II and into the close of the twentieth century, Atonement engages the reader on every conceivable level, with an ease and authority that mark it as a genuine masterpiece.

‘How guilt refined the methods of self-torture, threading the beads of detail into an eternal loop, a rosary to be fingered for a lifetime.’

I very rarely pick up a book if I’ve already seen the movie. Sure, there are likely to be differences but the experience is still spoiled for me. I had to make an exception with Atonement because I adored the movie but I could see how much more the story would shine and benefit from text. And shine did it ever.

Usually I complain about over-descriptiveness in stories, and this was definitely descriptive, yet the author possesses a skill in writing that is completely captivating. He sets the scene with ease and transports you into the very midst of it. His words envelop you and leave you mesmerized. I could go on and on regarding the beauty of this story and the multitude of emotions it managed to evoke in me but put simply, this book was a breath of fresh air.

I’ve been told this is the best to expect from Ian McEwan but I will still eagerly dive into more of his works.

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Early Review – Sweet Tooth by Ian McEwan

November 12, 2012 Bonnie Adult, Book Reviews, Early Review, Read in 2012 1 Comment

I received this book free from Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Early Review – Sweet Tooth by Ian McEwanSweet Tooth by Ian McEwan
Published by Anchor on November 13th 2012
Pages: 320
Genres: Historical Fiction, Mystery, Thriller
Format: eARC
Source: Edelweiss
Amazon
Goodreads

Also by this author: Atonement

three-stars

In this stunning new novel, Ian McEwan’s first female protagonist since Atonement is about to learn that espionage is the ultimate seduction.

Cambridge student Serena Frome’s beauty and intelligence make her the ideal recruit for MI5. The year is 1972. The Cold War is far from over. England’s legendary intelligence agency is determined to manipulate the cultural conversation by funding writers whose politics align with those of the government. The operation is code named “Sweet Tooth.”

Serena, a compulsive reader of novels, is the perfect candidate to infiltrate the literary circle of a promising young writer named Tom Haley. At first, she loves his stories. Then she begins to love the man. How long can she conceal her undercover life? To answer that question, Serena must abandon the first rule of espionage: trust no one.

Once again, Ian McEwan’s mastery dazzles us in this superbly deft and witty story of betrayal and intrigue, love and the invented self.

“I was the basest of readers. All I wanted was my own world, and myself in it, given back to me in artful shapes and accessible form.”

Sweet Tooth tells the story of Serena, a woman living in early 1970’s England. She is an avid reader of modern literature and is eventually recruited to MI5, the United Kingdom’s security agency, after receiving an interview via her middle-aged lover. Her task is to recruit a writer, Tom Haley, who has been pegged as unsympathetic to communism in order for him to write articles with the intent to change the people’s perception. Except he can’t know that he’s doing this for the sole benefit of the government. When Serena realizes that falling in love with Tom means she needs to decide whether or not to continue lying to him or risk everything and tell him all.

Ian McEwan managed to portray an extremely convincing story from a female’s point-of-view. Admittedly, Serena was not a terribly easy character to like but I’m thinking that was quite possibly the intention. Sweet Tooth certainly had an extremely authentic atmosphere, his portrayal of 1970’s England was brilliantly detailed and exact. The 1970’s was of course quite different especially regarding the attitude towards women in the workplace.

Yes, this is a spy novel and several scenes reminded me of a John le Carré novel, but the whole espionage bit was really put on the back burner in regards to the rest of the story. The story really focuses on Serena’s personal development, her maturity, and finding love. The writing was brilliant at times, and most other times was dreadfully dull. It was really hard to be invested in the story as a whole; emotions were described but were hard to get a true grasp on them in order to really understand and appreciate the story. Enjoyable read, but certainly wasn’t as anticipated and lacked in overall impressiveness.

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Book Review – Particular Sadness of Lemon Cake by Aimee Bender

September 2, 2011 Bonnie Adult, Book Reviews, Read in 2011 0 Comments

Book Review – Particular Sadness of Lemon Cake by Aimee BenderThe Particular Sadness of Lemon Cake by Aimee Bender
Published by Anchor on May 26, 2010
Pages: 306
Genres: Contemporary, Magical Realism
Format: eBook
Source: Library
Amazon
Goodreads


two-stars

The wondrous Aimee Bender conjures the lush and moving story of a girl whose magical gift is really a devastating curse.

On the eve of her ninth birthday, unassuming Rose Edelstein, a girl at the periphery of schoolyard games and her distracted parents’ attention, bites into her mother’s homemade lemon-chocolate cake and discovers she has a magical gift: she can taste her mother’s emotions in the cake. She discovers this gift to her horror, for her mother—her cheerful, good-with-crafts, can-do mother—tastes of despair and desperation. Suddenly, and for the rest of her life, food becomes a peril and a threat to Rose.

The curse her gift has bestowed is the secret knowledge all families keep hidden—her mother’s life outside the home, her father’s detachment, her brother’s clash with the world. Yet as Rose grows up she learns to harness her gift and becomes aware that there are secrets even her taste buds cannot discern.

The Particular Sadness of Lemon Cake is a luminous tale about the enormous difficulty of loving someone fully when you know too much about them. It is heartbreaking and funny, wise and sad, and confirms Aimee Bender’s place as “a writer who makes you grateful for the very existence of language” (San Francisco Chronicle)

This storyline certainly had the potential for being a fascinatingly original novel about a young girl, Rose, who on the eve of her 9th birthday realizes that while eating a piece of homemade cake, that her mom is extremely sad. Confused, as a 9 year old would be, she doesn’t realize till it begins happening again and again, that by eating food prepared by someone she’s able to tell what kind of mood they are in.

I found this to be a variation of synesthesia, where individual letters of the alphabet and numbers are designated a color, where sounds can produce colors that arise around the produced sound, and where words can cause involuntary taste sensations. I first learned about synesthesia in Ultraviolet and found it to be quiet fascinating. Obviously in this story she’s not suffering from synesthesia; however, I found it to be a similar concept and was quite interested in the originality of it all.

The overall tone was quite dreary because this little girl was unable to explain to her parents why the dinner feels “empty” and why she knows that even though her mother manages to put on a happy face, it’s far from the truth. As the story progresses and Rose starts learning how to deal with her ‘gift’ she’s able to pick up more and more subtleties like why her mom is sad, why the baker who made the chocolate chip cookies is angry, and is even able to determine where the food has been and who has unknowingly passed on their emotions into it. After one particularly rough meal when her mother, for once, seems happier, Rose soon finds out the reason behind it.

”After I’d bussed the rest of the table, I wrapped up the remaining roast beef in plastic and put it in the refrigerator for some adultery sandwiches the next day.”

This was all in the first 1/3 of the book or so. Then the author decides to throw in the fact that her brother has a ‘magical ability’ as well… and suffice it to say, it was laughable. (view spoiler) Also, the lack of quotation marks drove me absolutely batty. How hard is it to put quotes in so I know what’s being said versus what’s being thought? Very difficult to read like that. Very upsetting because I was really excited about reading this, but I was extremely disappointed with the final outcome. By the end I was ready to give this book 1 star but because I was thoroughly intrigued by the first half of the book I decided to give it 2 instead.

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