cam's Reviews > The Innocent

The Innocent by Ian McEwan
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Jan 19, 11

Read in January, 2011

having now read a handful of his novels, i find ian mcewan to be masterful. he moves between and among fiction genres adeptly and with supreme confidence, resulting in a widely varied catalog united under his accessibly intelligent prose and innate sense of character and voice.

the innocent is billed as a suspense novel; a thriller. i found it both thrilling and suspenseful. and yet, owing to mcewan's emotional and psychological engagement of his protagonist, it is a more fulfilling read than your average beach-ready page-turner. set against an historic even in post-war berlin, this is an inside-out brand of potboiler. there is espionage and scandal. but the reader experiences the book's events through the eyes, or rather the mind and heart, of leonard marnham. that is to say, this novel is not defined by the happenings and events that occur within it, but rather by the thoughts and emotions of the protagonist as they pertain to those happenings and events. this distinction between mcewan's the innocent and your average work of suspense fiction is more subtle in description than in experience. it reads quickly, though not necessarily for the same reason that most suspense novels read quickly.

mcewan closes the innocent by indulging the reader with a tidy resolve. it is the closure that the reader longs for, and yet one feels some way cheapened by its giving. without it, the conclusion of the innocent would be, admittedly, devastating. heart-wrenching. were the last chapter omitted, i don't doubt that my review would in some manner decry the cruelty of its omission. and yet, the relative warmth of feeling that accompanies the happy ending, as it were, feels shallow and undeserved. or rather, perhaps a finale that wrenches the reader's heart would be altogether more fitting.
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