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Bir Parmak Bal

3.42  ·  Rating details ·  47,185 ratings  ·  6,063 reviews
1970’ler, İngiltere. Cambridge mezunu Serena Frome, MI5’ta memur olarak işe alınır. Fakat bir süre sonra, Serena’nın edebiyat merakına güvenen patronları, onu Soğuk Savaş’ın kültürel cephesinde savaşması için görevlendirirler:
“Bir Parmak Bal” adındaki operasyonun amacı, Sovyetler Birliği ve diğer sosyalist ülkelere karşı tavır alan, geleceği parlak genç bir İngiliz yazar a
Paperback, 368 pages
Published February 2014 by Yapı Kredi Yayınları (first published August 23rd 2012)
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Thomas Litchford I had a few problems with the main character, but by the end everything made sense! I put it back on the shelf and kept thinking about it. Different M…moreI had a few problems with the main character, but by the end everything made sense! I put it back on the shelf and kept thinking about it. Different McEwan's other work, but good. It's closest in feel to 'Saturday' because of the emphasis on structure.

*****SPOILERS AHEAD*******

TBH, I felt like Serena was behaving too much like a male fantasy. She's a beautiful woman who wants to sleep with every man she encounters: older men, awkward men, brilliant writers. She reads but needs to be educated in the good stuff. She's gifted at mathematics but doesn't get the really difficult concepts at the university level.

And then we finally see why that is: she's a fictional version of the 'real' Serena (whatever that means in a metafiction like this) written by a young male writer. She behaves like an oversexed 23-year-old man because she's created by one. Now, it may not totally dissipate the weird sense of something just being 'off' in the novel, but you understand where that feeling comes from.

Loved it!(less)
This question contains spoilers... (view spoiler)
This answer contains spoilers… (view spoiler)

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Average rating 3.42  · 
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Nov 29, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
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
Dec 06, 2012 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
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
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
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
Joe Valdez
Apr 06, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction-general
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Nov 24, 2012 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
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
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
Aug 09, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Another egotistical effort by the English maestro. (A writer that knows how important & 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 s
Jan 04, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I'm completely baffled by this book. All I want to do is go read analysis of it because it's so layered. So for that I have to say it did a great job as a novel of making me think, keeping me on my toes, and keeping me intrigued. It's not perfect by any means, and there are times I was a bit bored. But it was wholly original and enjoyable to read most of the time, and I loved the last chapter. ...more
Petra X is enjoying a road trip across the NE USA
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
Jul 22, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
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 exh
☘Misericordia☘ ⚡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.
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
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
Elyse  Walters
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
Jan 12, 2013 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
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
Dec 27, 2014 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
A graduate of Cambridge with a math degree, Serena Frome is recruited to work for an intelligence agency during early 1970’s Cold War England. She has been assigned to operation “Sweet Tooth” and a young, promising new author, Tom Haley. This book is not your typical, fast-paced espionage thriller. This is a book about secrets, betrayals, and the power and artifice of the written word.

I got a bit bogged down with the more specific politics of the time, not being well versed in the early 1970’s
Roger Brunyate
Aug 14, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition

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
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
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.
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 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
Jenny (Reading Envy)
Feb 10, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Jenny (Reading Envy) by: Dale and Karen
I really enjoyed this, and I don't always love McEwan. He has to try hard to impress me. But I suppose creating a female character who is a reader more than anything, and turning her into a secret agent - that can't get any closer, better than flowers and chocolates, you know?

The descriptions of Miss Serena Frome as a reader felt familiar.

"I've said I was fast....I could take in a block of text or a whole paragraph in one visual gulp. It was a matter of letting my eyes and thoughts go soft, like
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
Gumble's Yard - Golden Reviewer
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
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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Play Book Tag: Sweet Tooth - Ian McEwan - 2* 2 12 Jun 30, 2019 01:45PM  
Play Book Tag: Sweet Tooth by Ian McEwan 3.5 stars 1 9 May 31, 2019 03:47PM  
Marmite ending? Did you love it or hate it? 36 440 Dec 04, 2014 05:43AM  

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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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