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Sweet Tooth

A Novel

This book can be downloaded and read in iBooks on your Mac or iOS device.


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.

From Publishers Weekly

Aug 13, 2012 – 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.

Customer Reviews

A Wonderful Novel

As one would expect given the background and experience of the author, this novel is beautifully written. But beyond that, the storyline is just plain superb and delights at every step along the way. I can't remember the last time I was so fully satisfied with the the manner in which each character and plot element was introduced, developed, and ultimately brought together at the end.

If you like the kind of writing that only an intellectual like McEwan can provide, you will appreciate this book. If you want that and a brilliant plot to boot, you will find this novel compelling. However, if you want both and are one of those readers who has a pretty extensive background in English literature -- which provides much of the background for this novel -- you will find this literary work to be even a more special treat.



If you think this is going to be a spy novel, you'll be sorry. Think lame relationships and uninteresting characters.

What now?

Chapter 17 is missing... The same page repeats 22 times. What now?

Sweet Tooth
View in iTunes
  • $11.99
  • Available on iPhone, iPad, iPod touch, and Mac.
  • Category: Mysteries & Thrillers
  • Published: Nov 13, 2012
  • Publisher: Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group
  • Seller: Penguin Random House LLC
  • Print Length: 400 Pages
  • Language: English
  • Requirements: To view this book, you must have an iOS device with iBooks 1.3.1 or later and iOS 4.3.3 or later, or a Mac with iBooks 1.0 or later and OS X 10.9 or later.

Customer Ratings