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The Innocent

3.68  ·  Rating Details  ·  6,214 Ratings  ·  514 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
ebook, 288 pages
Published December 22nd 2010 by Anchor (first published May 10th 1990)
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Dec 03, 2013 Mark rated it really liked it  ·  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
'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.
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
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
Feb 15, 2008 Tripp rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
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
Dec 27, 2010 Lauren rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Jan 11, 2016 Maggi rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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 is ...more
3.5, muy bueno. No había leído yo nada de este autor, sabía quién era porque he visto la peli de "Expiación" pero estoy más que seguro, SEGURISIMO, que voy a leer mucho libros de Ian McEwan.
Feb 22, 2015 Seemita rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Hmmm... Looks like either I had too much expectation from the book or the book indeed was not upto McEwan's standards.

The story seemed to drag a little although it could have been an absolute racer with its setting of spying, espionage and clandestine decryptions. The story reeked of some inconsequential details, which can advance a story if used in moderation, but the over-usage here only tamed the rhythm. I also found the central character, Leonard, way too confused, not as much owing to his
I had to read "The Innocent" for school, which made it quite annoying to struggle my way through this novel. I never really related to the protagonist or the love story, and the mystery part was badly-executed, in my opinion. In addition, there was a lot of political and military talk about the post-WWII situation in Berlin which might have been shortened. Nevertheless, "The Innocent" was an engaging read with some interesting parts; sometimes implausible, but on the whole satisfying. I'm defini ...more
Mar 18, 2015 Olariu rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
interesanta. acum caut si filmul (am citit ca ecranizarea e chiar reusita) cu Anthony Hopkins, Isabella Rossellini si Campbell Scott.
Far less than my expectations, Schade ! nevertheless it's acceptable as a love story that has nothing to do deeply with the beginning of the cold war or the kind of life in Berlin just after the war. therefrom I classify it as a love story , even though the central theme is on spy. This is because I've been and will be obsessed with knowing more about the nature of the life Berliners were living during that period of time, and thought this novel would introduce something new but, unfortunately, ...more
Jul 24, 2007 Sean rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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.
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.
Marisa Fernandes
A história de "O Inocente" passa-se em Berlim dos anos 50, sobretudo em torno de Leonard, um jovem inglês inexperiente, e Maria, uma alemã divorciada, metendo pelo meio muito suspense e alguma (pouca) espionagem, alguma História decorrente da ocupação da Alemanha e de Berlim pelos ingleses, franceses, americanos e russos.

Se gostei? Gostei, mas ainda continuo a gostar mais de "Expiação". "O Inocente" só me conseguiu prender mais às suas páginas a partir do momento em que a personagem de Maria en
(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
Sep 02, 2012 Laysee rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Sep 04, 2014 Carlo rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
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
Aug 31, 2009 Ann rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Rebecca McNutt
Set during the Cold War, The Innocent is an exciting and slightly surreal thriller that follows a young technician who finds himself wrapped up in secrets and romance and the times in general.
Apr 13, 2015 Vidia rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Oh, la wawena.
Jul 11, 2011 Will rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is not a thriller or a spy novel, although those are elements of the story. It is, like McEwan's other books, a tightly woven portrait - this time of a young naive Englishman in Berlin in 1955. Sometimes McEwan is just too perfectly contrived - like "Saturday" was - but here I had no idea how everything would turn out. There is tension and menace right from the start, but it is nothing like you would expect, and the ending is entirely appropriate. I couldn't put it down - read it in two nig ...more
Margaret Barnes
Jul 20, 2015 Margaret Barnes rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
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
Victor Sonkin
This is a book that proves to you (by way of making you identify with the characters) that, if necessary, you will take an ax and a saw, hack up a body of a man you've just murdered, wrap it up in waterproof cloth, shove into two suitcases and try to find a way to get rid of them.
This is also, as so often in McEwan, a book about deficiency of human communication (not as a concept, but as its implementation in real life). This theme resonates with me —I hate it when people fall ou

One of my 2014 challenge categories is Berlin. I wanted to read books set in Berlin, but not set during WWII. I was especially interested in Cold War Berlin, reconstruction, that sort of thing. The Innocent started off as a book about British/American collaboration on a project - essentially spying on the Russians. The main character, Leonard, is a young British man who has come to Berlin to help with the electronics part of the project and the entire story is told from his point of
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
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
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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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“He needed that time edged with boredom in which fantasy could flourish.” 1 likes
“The abandonment was delicious. Something was pouring out of him, through his palm and into hers; something was spreading back up his arm, across his chest, constricting his throat. His only thought was a repetition: so this is it, it’s like this, so this is it …” 0 likes
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