Cynthia's Reviews > Solar

Solar by Ian McEwan
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May 14, 10

bookshelves: books-read-in-2010
Read in May, 2010

A Nobel winning physicist is approaching the descending side of his life. Michael Beard’s had five wives with each marriage leaving a bigger pile of emotional junk in its wake. He can’t or won’t grow up. He just stays in motion hoping it will all sort itself out. It doesn’t. It gets worse. By the end of the book there are sweltering piles of personal and professional cacao threatening to fall on him.

In classic McEwen style there is a pivot incident that changes or enhances the trajectory of Beard’s life. The ensuing tragedy begets a kind of second life to both his career and his personal realm. There are funny scenes in the book but no belly laughs. They’re more of a one side of the mouth raised and a strangled guffaw type. Honestly this guy is so pathetic you want to jump into the book and drag him to safety, along with some of his hapless ‘victims’.

This wasn’t one of my favorite McEwen novels but I still loved it. Especially wonderful was his description of southwest America. This is where his wry sense of humor really goes hot. The heat of this lonely area with its orange sunsets, the contrasts between the hyper cooled indoors and the stalking blanket of heat outside, the people who are at once expansive in their open hearts and provincial in their viewpoints. When you think of someone who’s reached such a level as Beard’s character there’s a certain perception or expectation of sophistication and maturity. Beard defies such characterization. Toto’s pulled the curtain away, by the end Beard is standing naked with a spotlight on him. Solar indeed.
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Comments (showing 1-18 of 18) (18 new)

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message 1: by Barbara (new) - added it

Barbara Cynthia, I can always count on you to give us a splendid review!Reviews were so mixed, but I think that I'll read it because he's one of my favorites.


Teresa Great points, C!


Nannie Bittinger Wonderful summary review, Cynthia. I finally finished it and really liked it too. The scene where Beard is trying to resist the bag of chips did crack me up. Mcewen, by his jacket photo doesn't look to have a weight problem but he sure had the draw of potatoe chips pegged! :) Ouer all, Beard was indeed so pathetic and yet, I didn't end up hating him...just felt a sorrow that made me groan.


Cynthia Nannie wrote: "Wonderful summary review, Cynthia. I finally finished it and really liked it too. The scene where Beard is trying to resist the bag of chips did crack me up. Mcewen, by his jacket photo doesn't ..."


Hi Nanie. Great Points. I loved the crisps scenario. lol


message 5: by Barbara (new) - added it

Barbara I have the book on reserve from my library, but it looks as if it will be a while. Meanwhile, there is no shortage of things to read!


Maria I love this review, and am enjoying the sweltering cacao piles - yuck! - phrase. Sounds like a winner, as usual. I love the way this author thinks, so how wrong can I go?


Cynthia Maria wrote: "I love this review, and am enjoying the sweltering cacao piles - yuck! - phrase. Sounds like a winner, as usual. I love the way this author thinks, so how wrong can I go?"


Thanks but where have you BEEN?


message 8: by Barbara (new) - added it

Barbara Maria, pardon my ignorance, but what are "sweltering cacao piles"?


Cynthia Barbara wrote: "Maria, pardon my ignorance, but what are "sweltering cacao piles"?"

And please note not just cacao piles but sweltering ones! Maybe she's grading essays.


message 10: by Maria (last edited May 26, 2010 12:26PM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Maria Barb, read first par. of Cynthia's review again.

Cyn,I've been "scholastically indisposed" recently but school is over finally and I can laugh at cacao piles. My aim in life! Also, and this annoys me, I do not receive GR friends' messages & notifications in any sort of timely manner, and sometimes I can't even get into messages. This time I know it's not me (usually it is), but I guess that's how it goes. I'm currently reading my friend Elena's book A Mountain of Crumbs and Balzac's Pere Goriot (as a foil-LOL). It's 90+ degrees here!


Cynthia Maria you know you can log into GR and then hit home. You'll see all your updates there.


message 12: by Barbara (new) - added it

Barbara OOPS!

Maria, although Cynthia is right on with tips, I'm not getting all of my updates, either. Why don't you contact GOODREADS FEEDBACK?


Cynthia Barbara wrote: "OOPS!

Maria, although Cynthia is right on with tips, I'm not getting all of my updates, either. Why don't you contact GOODREADS FEEDBACK?"



Now you guys have me wondering if *I'm getting all my updates.


message 14: by Barbara (new) - added it

Barbara Hey, Everybody! I do hate to gloat, but today was my lucky day! As I was leaving my library this AM, I stopped by the book sale carts. Sitting atop a pile was Solar by Ian McEwan !
I asked the librarian the price and she said $.50! Her assistant told me that they have a reserve list about "a mile long". Although I rarely buy books, who could pass up such a bargain from one of my favorite authors?!
I have 3 books ahead of this, but at least it's in my possession!


Cynthia That's great Babara but how does it make sense to sell copies when they have a long wait list???


message 16: by Barbara (new) - added it

Barbara We don't know where that came from, but the books on sale do not belong to the library, with a few exceptions.
They are usually donated books. This one had a removable sticker on it which stated,"20% Off for members". No other prices were anywhere on the book. So it's not a "standard" hardcover.


Cynthia That makes sense. It's great you got it!

Last time I was at the library they had a pile of new books and while I waited for them to find my holds I looked at them. They were of the Nora Roberts type of books so I wasn't interested but when the librarian saw me look at them she whisked them away like they were gold. lol


message 18: by Barbara (new) - added it

Barbara That type of book seems easy to find. I've never read her either, nor Danielle Steele.


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