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The Comfort of Strangers by Ian McEwan
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's review
Sep 29, 2011

liked it
Read from September 29 to October 03, 2011

It took me a while to slide into the story due to the fact that the protagonists are portrayed as two dull and uninteresting people. As the story unfolds and Robert enters the stage, the story suddenly blossoms and as a reader, you feel that you are treading on very thin ice. Which information is reliable? Am I being manipulated? Is this really happening? Just some of the questions that unnerved me as I was reading and that made this novella more challenging and more interesting, ultimately.

McEwan's superb storytelling skills suggest rather than describe exactly what happens; even the town where the story is set needs to be deducted from his lavish descriptions. This veil of mystery adds an extra layer to the novella and sets exactly the right atmosphere for the chilling finale.

I loved the silences in this book, the irregular pace and sometimes choking yet hollow intimacy between the couple Colin and Mary. The story itself seemed almost pensive about where to head next and sometimes abjectly unwilling to engage into any rapport with the reader. These metaphors mirror much of the unsaid strain that weighs down on C&M's relationship. Very cleverly done.

Anyone who is not familiar with McEwan should first read another one of his brilliant novels before embarking on this somewhat tougher nut to crack. But those whose hearts have already been won over will appreciate this novella as a quintessential example of McEwan's qualities as a contemporary author.


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