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The Innocent

3.68 of 5 stars 3.68  ·  rating details  ·  5,221 ratings  ·  444 reviews
The setting is Berlin. Into this divided city, wrenched between East and West, between past and present; comes twenty-five-year-old Leonard Marnham, assigned to a British-American surveillance team.

Though only a pawn in an international plot that is never fully revealed to him, Leonard uses his secret work to escape the bonds of his ordinary life -- and to lose his unwante
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ebook, 288 pages
Published December 22nd 2010 by Anchor (first published 1990)
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Mark
Dec 03, 2013 Mark rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Mark by: My bookshop guardian angel
This is an odd book which I thoroughly enjoyed. Set in mid 1950's Berlin it is the story of a young Englishman assigned to a joint British-American surveillance team. The mistrust and dislike of allies and comrades in arms is quietly stated but undeniable and there were tongue in cheek descriptions by McEwan of the wonderfully contorted levels of security which purportedly existed so as to preserve the safety and secrecy of the work and yet seemed just to encourage people to seek desperately to ...more
Martine
'To innocence. And to Anglo-German co-operation.'

This is what Leonard, a stuffy English engineer who has been sent to post-war, pre-wall Berlin to assist in an attempt to tap Soviet landlines, and Maria, a mysterious German divorcee who initiates him in the art of love, say to each other at their engagement party. Just a few pages later, they lose their innocence in the most gruesome fashion imaginable, after which Anglo-German co-operation takes a back seat and confusion and paranoia take over.
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Schmacko
I wish I knew what this 1990 novel was trying to be, because as well written as the prose is, The Innocent feels all over the place. It’s a post-WWII Berlin spy novel, but it’s mostly about politics – not so much between the Russians and the west, but between Germany, the Americans, and the British. It’s also a coming-of-age story, in a way; though the protagonist is 30, he’s still a bit naïve. Finally, there are small turns in the plot that seem unlikely and then seriously improbable, and fille ...more
Tripp
With Ian McEwan. Atonement remains one of my favorite books, but when I tried Saturday I just couldn't connect with the book. When I saw his book the Innocent, set in one of my favorite periods, the mid-Cold War, I just had to try it. The setting turns out to be relatively unimportant. This isn't really a Cold War thriller, but is a classic McEwan exploration of the inner life of a few people.

In this case, we have the inexperienced British civil servant, Leonard , who is sent to work on a joint
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Manny
When you're in love, you do strange things, but they don't seem strange at the time. Last night we watched Deep End, a 1970 movie starring Jane Asher which explored this theme well. The main character is a shy 15 year old boy, who becomes obsessed with the lovely Ms Asher. His actions all seem more or less logical in the context of the story; but somehow they lead to a brilliant and disquieting final scene where they're standing in a disused swimming pool, boiling snow in an electric kettle that ...more
Mircalla64 (free Liu Xiaobo)
il self control inglese è peggio della Guerra Fredda

Berlino metà anni 50
la città è divisa in zone di occupazione, poco prima della costruzione del Muro che la dividerà nei lunghi anni di Guerra Fredda, alcuni tecnici inglesi e americani collaborano alla costruzione di un tunnel da cui intendono spiare le comunicazioni radar provenienti dalla Russia...un povero fesso inglese, giovane e inesperto, viene mandato a far la spia senza nemmeno capire cosa dovrebbe spiare e, intanto che si guarda intorn
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Lauren
I love-love-love Ian McEwan, and I'm going to remember this holiday season as the time I "rediscovered" Ian McEwan. I read a lot of books by him a few years ago, but not ALL of his books. And I read everything new he publishes. But I ended up reading this book rather inadvertently. It just came out on the Kindle in December, and I stumbled across it and "preordered" it thinking that it was a new publication -- only to later discover that he had written it in '89 and it was only the Kindle versio ...more
Olariu
interesanta. acum caut si filmul (am citit ca ecranizarea e chiar reusita) cu Anthony Hopkins, Isabella Rossellini si Campbell Scott.
Maggi
I think someone else said it first, but this book is not for the faint of heart. Several chapters are almost disgustingly grisly. Make that totally. And I want to warn you right up front because I was too far in to get out at that point. But ultimately, this is another solid read from Ian McEwan with its plot twists and turns as well as incisive characterizations tossed out in a character's observations, revealing depths of human frailty in a single remark. The protagonist's sexual awakening in ...more
Helle
(4,5) I thoroughly enjoyed this strange romance/spy novel/period piece/twisted and grisly tale, second only to Atonement of McEwan’s novels, in my opinion (from the six novels I’ve read by him so far).

I found the novel in Berlin a few days ago and bought it without hesitation: It’s by one of my favourite authors, and the cover featured The Brandenburger Gate, which I saw every day when we stepped out of our hotel or returned to it. As the main character in the novel visits Berlin in two differe
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brian
depalma should direct the film version. that terrific fucking final set piece all slowed down and stretched out over 60 pages, all gory and demented... shit yeah! i'd also like to dig up hitchcock's grave and have depalma cockslap him a few times across his pale jowly cheek. the fat bastard deserves it.
Laysee
The Innocent by Ian McEwan is a psychological thriller set in West Berlin, 1954, during the cold war. Leonard Marnham, a 25-year-old British post office technician, was employed by the Americans on a joint British-American surveillance project to install signals in the tunnel they were building to tap the phone lines of the Soviet High Command.

Leonard was well brought up and shy but quickly lost both his physical and political innocence. His love interest was a blond German divorcee, Maria Eckd
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Carlo
Come una vecchia pubblicità di una grappa, un romanzo dal cuore molto bello, ma con una testa ed una coda non del tutto convincenti. All’inizio, la puntigliosa descrizione del progetto di spionaggio antisovietico risulta in molti tratti macchinosa: poi Leonard incontra Maria ed iniziano duecento pagine travolgenti come la storia d’amore tra i due personaggi. Il loro rapporto cresce pagina per pagina, contrappuntato dal lavoro di lui per il progetto suddetto, senza che ci sia alcuno scadimento di ...more
Ann
The book you think you're starting is utterly different from the book you finish. That is a compliment. First half is a Cold War thriller written by a more reserved John le Carre, second half is a black comedy of the most high-macabre, queasily tense variety. The Innocent doesn't quite reach the (ridiculously high) bar set by Amsterdam, and part of me misses the sustained sensitivity of books like Saturday (what? I liked it.), but there is plenty of the fine-grained observation we know and love ...more
Sean
McEwan does the Cold War thriller. An excellent read by one of the best living English language authors. And for the record, I had sufficient testosterone to get through, in one go, the gut-wrenching scene located amidships. It was graphic, but don't let the namby-pamby reviewers telling you they had to set down the book, overcome by revulsion and fear as they were, steer you in the wrong direction. To them I say, there's always Maeve Binchy.
Margaret Barnes
Ian McEwans prose never fails to impress. This thriller set in post-war Berlin is a thriller in every sense. The Innocent of the title is a young English man Leonard Marham, who is recruited to work on a secret plan to listen in to Soviet transmissions. He is initiated into the gray world od espionage and counter espionage by an American called Glass. He meets and becomes involved with a German woman five years his senior who becomes his first lover. Her ex-husband spies on her and Marham kills ...more
Gordon
An emotionally stirring novel of a British agent, an Anglo-American spy project in Western Berlin, his first true love with a beautiful German divorcee, and an accident that turns into a nightmare. Ian McEwan does a wonderful job of describing the life, times and sentiments of the people in post WWII Berlin, the tensions between Allies and Soviets, and developing a wonderful love story that runs head into the chaos and vagaries of fortune, misfortune, misunderstandings, and pride. A wonderful re ...more
Christine
The Innocent is one of McEwan's earlier works. It's the fourth of 13 novels from 1978 to 2014. It's not as affecting as Atonement, which also had parts covering a war, or as suspenseful as Enduring Love. It's not as meditative as Saturday either. But in The Innocent, the reader gets a glimpse of the future McEwan themes.

The Innocent takes place in Berlin, Germany. An engineer from England, Leonard, is assigned for a special task in Berlin. At first, the reader expects a spy-war kind of suspensef
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Heidi Liu
This.. was just a really disgusting book, on so many levels. There's a lot to be said (and very little of it good) for a novel in which every character is genuinely dis likable. Leonard is self-obsessed and pathetically ignorant as opposed to innocent. McEwan tries to make the point that he transforms throughout the book but he really doesn't. He is the same selfish and irresponsible little man thrown amidst matters that are much bigger than him, yet he handles them with regards only to his own ...more
Margaret
First, this is a terrific audio / reader performance by John Franklyn-Robbins, who is called upon to use British, American, and German accents in this novel, which takes place in mid-50's, post-war Berlin. His reading held me gripped. That said, I'm not as taken with the actual story - a young, naive man (the apparent "Innocent" of the novel) arrives in Berlin to take a civilian job related to a joint espionage project of the West versus the Soviet Union. This is before the wall was built, and s ...more
David
Ian McEwan nails human nature better than any writer I've ever read. It's simultaneously comforting and unnerving to read this author, because he is just right on the mark with our weaknesses, our fears and our dilemmas. McEwan also seldom writes a happy story. It's tough being his protagonist, because he'll put you through the reamer and leave you a shell by the end. And since McEwan writes so realistically, it feels like you the reader go through the same ordeal. "The Innocent" is a man named ...more
Slávek Rydval
Jméno Ian McEwan jsem již párkrát zaslechl, ale protože dávám přednost irským autorům před těmi ostrovními, nechával jsem jej bez povšimnutí. Až náhoda způsobila, že chtěv si pořídit nějaké mapy, zakoupil jsem i čerstvě vydaný překlad románu Nevinný (The Innocent, orig. 1989).

Asi nejvíc mě na knize lákal popis poválečného Berlína ještě před postavením proslavené zdi. To ostatní, tedy vyhloubení tunelu do sovětské okupační zóny kvůli odposlouchávání telefonních hovorů a šifrovaných zpráv, tomu dá
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S.
I get (the dubious) experience of exploring the McEwan back catalog. surrounded by my betters? mmm maybe this is a goodreads only experience.

rather thought John Fowles is the apposite of Ian McEwan. i.e., start deep and then fill up your legacy with more filler-ish work; McEwan peaking, peaking baby age 50-60, still going strong, by some accounts peaking age 60.

yowza.

~ creative writers have it good compared to punk rockers? i.e., you can fail for forty years and then suddenly be ice cream?

McEwa
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Britt Skrabanek
Ian McEwan + thriller + Cold War Berlin? Sign me up!

Atonement is easily in my top fave books of all time. This departure for Ian intrigued me, a look into Cold War shenanigans in mid-1950's Berlin.

We follow the story of British pup Leonard, a clumsy and inexperienced civil servant who is seduced by Maria, a spirited, slightly older German gal. Despite the secrecy of Leonard's work with digging up a tunnel under the Soviet sector and all, everything happens rather boy-meet-girl fashion: devirgini
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Bart
Nov 07, 2007 Bart rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Literary fiction fans
This novel is exceptional.

It is rare that a sentimental novel can make a contemporary reader feel covetous of the experience he has had with it, but The Innocent does just that.

As a reader, one knows what McEwan is doing and what he is going to do. When he wishes to work a reader over, he puts the novel deep in the modern past, makes his transitions abrupt and then finishes the story with reminiscences from a present-day character.

In this way, The Innocent is very similar to the formula McEwan f
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Jed L
While not up to the same level of intensity or despair as Atonement, The Innocent conveys many of the same feelings. Coming of age, intense passion and love turned into intense loathing and disgust. Both books are in a way coming of age novels shrouded in the context of global warfare--Atonement has the main plot pivot occur during the war, The Innocent has it occur during the aftermath of war. I felt that this book was lighter and simplier than Atonement until suddently it wasn't. The book quic ...more
Beverly
Leonard Marnham, a young British electronics technician, is sent to Berlin in the mid-fifties to work on an elaborate Soviet spy operation. A virgin, he meets a German lover, Maria; their affair leads to a gruesome and graphically described murder. There is a coda set in 1987 Berlin where the horrors of the past are laid to rest.

The atmosphere of post-war Berlin is described perfectly. The atmosphere of impending doom throughout the novel is palpable. Although Leonard starts out innocent and en
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Muphyn
This one is hard to rate: I loved the setting - Berlin in the 1950s - but the narrator's German pronunciation was just so atrocious that I almost couldn't stand it and wanted to drop it ("reading" the book would have been better). There's just too much German spoken and too many German place names in the story that some German language skills would have been essential you would have thought.

The story was engaging in parts but somehow left me cold and wanting for more. The language is beautiful b
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Luci
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Ian McEwan was born on 21 June 1948 in Aldershot, England. He studied at the University of Sussex, where he received a BA degree in English Literature in 1970. He received his MA degree in English Literature at the University of East Anglia.

McEwan's works have earned him worldwide critical acclaim. He won the Somerset Maugham Award in 1976 for his first collection of short stories First Love, Last
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