the one thing i've consistently admired & enjoyed about mcewan is his adeptness at depicting his characters' interior monologues in painstaking detail. i know it's something that many readers find excruciatingly boring, but it never fails to rope me in. the characters themselves, however, ring hollow. they come off as automatons, animated entirely by the requirements of whatever grand social analysis mcewan is trying to depict. i might find this OK if i thought his analyses were particularly insightful or at least funny, but i don't.