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Sweet Tooth

3.41  ·  Rating details ·  42,420 Ratings  ·  5,685 Reviews
Serena Frome, the beautiful daughter of an Anglican bishop, has a brief affair with an older man during her final year at Cambridge, and finds herself being groomed for the intelligence services. 

The year is 1972. Britain, confronting economic disaster, is being torn apart by industrial unrest and terrorism and faces its fifth state of emergency. The Cold War has entered a
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Hardcover, First American edition, 314 pages
Published November 13th 2012 by Nan A. Talese (first published August 23rd 2012)
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Chuck
Nov 29, 2012 rated it really liked it
My dearest Tom,

Upon reading your letter, my first impulse was to burn the accompanying package, walk away, and be done with us forever. But, as you seem to have uncannily predicted, I've now spent a couple of days and nights in your flat, devouring your manuscript and sleeping in between the sheets, nicely ironed. Given that you were in Paris and out of reach, there was no possibility of my responding to you immediately, so I had the luxury of abandoning myself to an extended period of reflectio
...more
Elaine
Nov 30, 2012 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2012
What a disappointment -- the vivid passions that animate Atonement (even its "trick", which in retrospect seems too similar) have become cramped cleverness, just as, perhaps, the heroic World War II London of Atonement becomes the gray decline of the early 70s London of Sweet Tooth. To sum it up, I was very disappointed. There is a lot of erudition on show here -- about the Cold War, about the history of British intelligence, and especially, always, about books and literature. But to what end? E ...more
Teresa
Dec 06, 2012 rated it liked it
I've read all of McEwan's short stories and novels, and it's only now that I can see why his endings bother some readers (including readers like his main character, Serena). And if you are a different, and certain, kind of reader (one unlike Serena) you will have criticisms of his narratorial voice, but at the end, McEwan has an answer for every single one of them -- from why Serena sounds the way she does to those paddings of the backward glance (quote from the book). He has anticipated them al ...more
Julie Christine
The opening paragraph of Sweet Tooth reveals the story's end, which is a tidy way of compelling you, dear reader, to focus on the important parts - the middle and such. You know it ends badly, so you can't possibly be disappointed; therefore, don't worry about it.

But then you remember that you are reading Ian McEwan, master of unreliable narrators and oft-tricksy endings, and you wonder - am I being told the truth of the ending as it is, or the truth as the narrator would have me see it? And sud
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Joe Valdez
Apr 06, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: fiction-general
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Samadrita
Jun 20, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: those who prefer plot over writing
To pigeonhole Sweet Tooth into a specific genre will be an act of folly. In the beginning it gives off the impression of a mere Cold war era spy thriller, then steps with casual ease into the territory of metafiction and in the end it changes tack and becomes a meditation on romance.
But even so it never appears indecisive or loses sight of what it sets out to do - which is to juxtapose several contrasting themes and give us a fast-paced yet compelling human drama unfolding against the bleak bac
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Kim
Sep 14, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition

In my review of On Chesil Beach, I commented that I hadn’t read any of McEwan’s work since being profoundly disturbed by The Child in Time when I read it in the late 1980s. On Chesil Beach made me realise that I wanted to read more McEwan. I was therefore interested in this novel as soon as I saw it on the “new releases” table in my local bookstore. I elected to listen to the audiobook narrated by Juliet Stevenson, as it was cheaper for me to acquire than the text version and I knew from past ex
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Maciek
The American edition of Sweet Tooth, Ian McEwan's latest novel, has a delightful cover - an image of a woman standing at a train station, looking over the tracks and into the distance. The image is in sepia, and the font in which the author and the title are printed have obviously been carefully prepared to resemble the classic paperback covers from the 70's. The effect is quite delightful and definitely works. It is also dedicated to the late Christopher Hitchens brought that fine man back to m ...more
Bailey
Nov 24, 2012 rated it did not like it
Shelves: 2012
If you want to read an Ian McEwan novel, choose a different one! McEwan has long been one of my favorite authors, but Sweet Tooth was hugely unsatisfying for me. I struggled to get through it; the plot dragged and the characters were both unbelievable and unlikable. It was well-written, but it lacked the emotional depth and psychological insight that to me is the mark of a great McEwan novel.

The book has been marketed as a "spy thriller," and you'll be especially disappointed if you start readi
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Carmen
May 07, 2014 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: I honestly have no idea
Thanks for nothing, Ian McEwan.

I really don't appreciate (view spoiler)

Yes, yes, you're very clever.

Two stars because the writing is good and I liked the story.

Minus three stars for being a jerk.

I'm NOT ENJOYING this recent obsession with(view spoiler) authors dearest.

...

UPDATE 10/06/2014: On a more personal level, I was enjoying the heck out of the book and psychoanalyzing the main character. I was pleased as punch at how cold and even exhib
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Becky
Jul 22, 2012 rated it really liked it
Ian McEwan leaves me a little speechless, like an encounter with a movie star might, though I'm much more impressed by his writing ability and sense of what drives people, than I am by good looks and $20M a movie. (That said, I have met him and, for a gentleman of a certain age, he is quite attractive, and I dare say, not poor.) Each page of his books, and Sweet Tooth is no exception, makes me swoon a little. So, while parts of Sweet Tooth were a little lost on my dim bulb (I'll never fully gras ...more
Betsy Robinson
Jan 23, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I would like to know Ian McEwan—to be the kind of friend who meets him for lunch. If I were, I’d say, “All right, Ian, give it up. Tell me straight. How do you know what it feels like to be a woman? How do you know the sensations, the thoughts women rarely say about being with men? Don’t lie. I promise I’ll keep it a secret.”

I think all good writers become their characters and hence, they are writing from an authentic place that is much bigger than who they are in day-to-day life. Plus, there is
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Florence (Lefty) MacIntosh
You need to have a thing for dark atmospheric novels; Sour Tooth would be more fitting. It’s certainly not a thriller and it’s a spy novel only in the literal sense. Timeline the 70’s, the intrigue of London’s M5 during the cold war really just background ambience for this character driven novel. It opens “My name is Serena Frome and almost forty years ago I was sent on a secret mission for the British security service. I didn’t return safely. Within eighteen months of joining I was sacked, havi ...more
Petra X
Sep 08, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
This was really reading totally outside any genre of interest to me. Something about the cover got me.(I'm shallow like that).

Clever, but not terribly likeable, girl goes to Cambridge to study Maths which she doesn't work at (she'd rather be reading novels) but her main motivating factor is lurrrrrve. It would be, wouldn't it? So she falls in love with an older slightly mysterious married man which leads to a job as a real-life spy. So of course she falls in lurrrrve with the guy who is the mark
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switterbug (Betsey)
This is my third McEwan novel, so I am not veteran enough to compare elements of SWEET TOOTH to his large body of work, but a few aspects of his talent brought me back to ATONEMENT, which is one of my favorite British contemporary novels, and SOLAR, has last novel. ATONEMENT proved that McEwan pens female characters with finesse--even complex, conflicted girls like thirteen-year-old Briony Tallis. In SWEET TOOTH, he kicks the femme character up a notch by writing in the first-person perspective ...more
☘Misericordia☘  ⚡ϟ⚡ϟ⚡⛈ ✺❂❤❣
On the one hand, the heroine's insights on the whys and hows of other people's actions felt empowering. Her ongoing evaluation of the ultimate reasons for about everyone's actions was quite formidable.
On the other hand, her emotional rollercoaster felt incredibly weird. Are there really people who do pay that much attention to their emotions?
Sweet, lingering prose. Beautiful language, intoxicating imagery. An intersection of many styles of writing. A very memorable book to read in languor.
Oh,
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Holly
Jan 12, 2013 rated it liked it
Shelves: 2013-reads
Just some open-ended thoughts. And spoilers, too, I suppose:

I wonder if one of the reasons Serena is such a weak, passive, shallow main character is because, despite the first-person POV, McEwan can't quite bring himself to inhabit her? He has diluted her by having another character write her/spy on her (whom McEwan himself is writing/spying on).

Note: In an interview promoting this book McEwan claimed that he has a prejudice against first-person narratives: "There are too many of them. They're t
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Elyse
Aug 03, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I just started reading "Sweet Tooth" this morning before getting out of bed...
My My, I can see I'm in for delightful *Ian McEwan* ride.....with his key narrator/female **Serena**.... an Professor 'Tony'.

I wasn't crazy about Ian's last book "Solar"....nor a fan of "Chesil Beach" ---but a huge fan of most other books he wrote. ---(his early books) --

So far-- "Sweet Tooth" has the 'feel' of what I love best about Ian McEwan ---
He knows woman -- He knows men -- He knows about relationships -- "Swe
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 amapola
Apr 15, 2018 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: lett-inglese
Bello senz’anima

C’è la spy story, c’è anche la storia d’amore, e poi ci sono gli anni ’70, c’è la Guerra Fredda, c’è un fatto di cronaca che ha ispirato il romanzo, c’è un’ambientazione grigia e squallida. Poi c’è la bravura di McEwan, la prosa fluente, i personaggi ben caratterizzati, la trama ben architettata, il finale a sorpresa… Gli ingredienti per piacermi c’erano tutti, ma qualcosa non ha funzionato nel modo giusto, non so bene che cosa, ma non mi ha coinvolta, mi ha provocato qualche sba
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Roger Brunyate
Aug 14, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Self-Referential

I could see someone writing a three-star review of McEwan's latest novel almost as easily as a five-star one. (view spoiler) But not I. For the moment the book arrived and I read the first paragraph, I br
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Cynthia
Sep 26, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Love and Deception and Love

“Sweet Tooth” is set in the first few years of the 1970’s at the height of the cold war. Serena, who is anything but serene, is attending Cambridge studying maths at her mother’s insistence. She earns a third, poor girl. She’d much rather be studying English Literature because all her life she’s devoured book after book searching for an ever more romantic ‘I do’. To her delight she has a few love affairs while at school and one of her beaux leads her to a job at MI5 up
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Cheryl
Jun 12, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is a Reader's book. It is about writing, about words, and about the power of words. It is about the pen being wielded in the same battlefields as the sword, and sometimes with the same amount of ignorance.

Serena is a young woman, and a babe in the woods when it comes to being an "operative" in MI5 back in the early 70s. She stumbles into her new career and is thrilled with the glamour she thinks must surely be just around the corner when one works for that secret department. She eagerly hop
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David Baldacci
Nov 15, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Spies, the 1970s, the Cold War, romance, intrigue and a master storyteller to put it all together for us.
Jennifer
Jul 11, 2012 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2012-books, owned
the book started out really well for me and i was sucked right into the story. the book is dedicated to christopher hitchens. it's meta-fiction - many authors and books, as well as a book award (the austen prize, which is "better than the newly founded booker") feature on the pages of this novel. but...around the halfway/two-thirds mark...it got a bit...boring. which was disappointing - given the book also features mi5, spyishness and a bit of mystery. it could have been snap, crackle, pop-a-lop ...more
Teresa Proença
Apr 29, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 5e, n-reino-unido
Gosto de Mel.
Da sua cor dourada e límpida. Da sua textura espessa e cremosa. Do seu sabor suave e quente. Da sua extrema doçura, salpicada de um ténue aroma a flores…

Como uma abelha-mestra, Ian McEwan tece um favo de palavras, dentro do qual dispõe situações e personagens fabulosas, que se unem e separam através do que faz a vida ser vida: amor, ciúme, morte, tristeza, saudade, solidão, IMAGINAÇÃO…

O contexto, espacial, temporal, e histórico, em que as personagens se movimentam: espionagem, guerr
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Fabian
Aug 09, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Another egotistical effort by the maestro. (A writer that knows how important and essential the writer is and don't you forget it.) But this one is not the atrocious ego-driven character bullshit "Saturday," nor the slow & ultimately unengaging unengagement tale "On Chesil Beach." Thank god! (I assume "Lunar" is as successful as this one in ungluing its reputation from McEwan, A.A.*)

An MI5 literary-division spy affects the writing of her charge, a writer of the revolution; she gives him sugg
...more
Jonfaith
Apr 04, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
What I took to be the norm -- taut, smooth, supple -- was the transient special case of youth. To me, the old were a separate species, like sparrows or foxes.

Sweet Tooth is a deceit. There is a masque of espionage at play. There are feints, there are lies. The reader weaves as in concert, only to discover the ruse. This work also concerns a portrait of the early 70s, one of orange miniskirts and sanitation strikes. This is also a novel about deceit, especially literary deceit. This particular kn
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Gattalucy
Oct 10, 2017 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: attuali
Alla fine, quando ho bisogno di volermi un po’ bene, di lasciare che le parole mi affabulino almeno per un po’, leggo McEwan. La sua capacità di sintetizzare il tempo o di espanderlo in maniera esponenziale mi affascina.
”E il loro matrimonio di nove anni è smorto, appiattito dalle preoccupazioni e dal duro lavoro. Guastato dagli occasionali litigi, solitamente a proposito di soldi” Nove anni in una frase che racchiude tutto.
“La fine di ottobre portò con se il rito annuale di mettere indietro gl
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Gumble's Yard
Jan 15, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2012
Novel set in the early seventies, with Britain and its Intelligence Services, preoccupied with the Cold War, IRA terrorism and the oil induced economic crisis. Serena Frome is the attractive daughter of an Anglican bishop, skilled at maths but a lover of reading (mainly straightforward novels which she speed reads) she is persuaded by her ambitious mother to study Maths rather than English at Cambridge – quickly regretting it as she stumbles to a third only relieved by her writing of a quirky “w ...more
Stuart
Dec 09, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Ian McEwan is my favorite writer when it comes to style. There's something about the rhythm of his sentences that works for me. I thought he could write with aplomb in any genre until Solar came along and I found out McEwan definitely can't write satire. With Sweet Tooth, he's back on track. The novel isn't profound, but it is the most entertaining novel I've read this year by far.

Sweet Tooth is a story about a minor British spy scandal in the 1970s. A young woman, low on the M5 totem pole, is t
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8,662 followers
Ian McEwan studied at the University of Sussex, where he received a BA degree in English Literature in 1970 and later 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 Rites; the Whitbread Novel Award (1987) and
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More about Ian McEwan

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“I turned the pages so fast. And I suppose I was, in my mindless way, looking for a something, version of myself, a heroine I could slip inside as one might a pair of favourite shoes.” 44 likes
“Love doesn't grow at a steady rate, but advances in surges, bolts, wild leaps, and this was one of those.” 29 likes
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