Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “My Purple Scented Novel” as Want to Read:
My Purple Scented Novel
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

My Purple Scented Novel

3.87  ·  Rating details ·  2,899 ratings  ·  337 reviews
‘You will have heard of my friend the once celebrated novelist Jocelyn Tarbet, but I suspect his memory is beginning to fade… You’d never heard of me, the once obscure novelist Parker Sparrow, until my name was publicly connected with his. To a knowing few, our names remain rigidly attached, like the two ends of a seesaw. His rise coincided with, though did not cause, my d ...more
Paperback, 34 pages
Published June 21st 2018 by Vintage (first published March 28th 2016)
More Details... Edit Details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about My Purple Scented Novel, please sign up.

Be the first to ask a question about My Purple Scented Novel

This book is not yet featured on Listopia. Add this book to your favorite list »

Community Reviews

Showing 1-30
Average rating 3.87  · 
Rating details
 ·  2,899 ratings  ·  337 reviews

More filters
Sort order
Start your review of My Purple Scented Novel
My first review that disappeared. I read about other friends complaining that they could not find their reviews but it never happened to me until now. Unfortunately, I read this book before I started to save all my reviews in a word document so I cannot recreate it.

If I remember well, the short story appeared in the New Yorker a few months before Nutshell was published, probably to tease us and make us want to read more from McEwan. The plot has nothing to do with the novel except that both dea
Calling all McEwan fans: Check out this great short story of his!

You know you’re in the hands of a master storyteller when his narrator does something nasty and you instantly forgive him. This narrator is so friendly and sharp. He’s whispering to me, telling me his story all confidential-like. He’s my bud! How could I not like him? Never mind that he’s doing a bad deed and bragging about it!

It always amazes me when a writer can create a vivid and complex character in just a page or so—and have
Angela M
Sep 05, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
McEwan fans will love this short story. The writing is as smooth as ever. I read it while on the bike at the gym this morning. While there wasn’t enough action to elevate my heart rate, it certainly had me thinking about ambition, jealousy, and wondering why he wrote about plagiarism. I’ve read friend’s reviews praising it over the last year and just never got around to it, until I was reminded of it by Elyse this morning. Thanks, Elyse!
May 14, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: netgalley
Clever. Short. Deadpan. Story about plagiarism. Where did McEwan get the idea?

Thanks to Netgalley and the publisher for an opportunity to read a copy. I gather it’s also available online:
Elyse  Walters
Sep 05, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Thank you *Sharon*, for asking if I had read this short story. It takes 20-30 minutes to read....
It’s 99 cents as a Kindle download....
A little gem!

If you like John Boyne’s new novel “The Ladder To The Sky”,... you’ll enjoy this. Get a little chuckle reading it ‘especially’ after reading John Boyne’s ‘Ladder’ book.
Sep 30, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: short-stories, 2018
”I had sprinkled the pages with the dust of my identity.”

Having recently read John Boyne’s ’The Ladder to the Sky,’ the theme of plagiarism, plagiarizing the works of your friends, those you love, seems to have shown up in my reading so close together.

This was too short of a story to develop the intense feelings of reading Boyne’s novel, but also had a more likeable literary thief, as well, which brought about very different feelings.

Well worth the very brief time spent to read this very short
A tasty little story about a pair of writer friends who publish suspiciously similar novels within a few years of each other. Who stole the plot from whom? Reminiscent of A Ladder to the Sky and The Executor. This has whetted my appetite for McEwan’s new novel, due out next month. ...more
As someone who tends to put writers on a pedestal, it came as a shock to find out that they can be just as petty, ego-driven as the mere mortals.

This is a very short short story about plagiarism. The worst of all, it's about stealing from your only friend, your best friend.

It was an enjoyable read, albeit, I needed it more. Good thing there are still so many McEwan books I haven't read yet.
Paul Fulcher
Mar 09, 2019 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2019
Neat short story published in the New Yorker about the rivalry/friendship between two authors - and with a cheeky nod to McEwan's own relationship wih Martin Amis, whose The Information is explicitly referenced as is Pierre Menard, autor del Quijote.

Bought out as a book to celebrate McEwan's birthday but the story is about 5-6 pages long and available on the New Yorker website.

Published after Sweet Tooth it was another indicator of a welcome return to form and move away from the more smug preach
Jul 31, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: british-read
4.5 stars. Cheesy yet literary, this is one of those distinctly McEwanian works that are controversial and thought-provoking. McEwan's excellent reading of his short story is available on the New Yorker site and I highly recommend listening to it. The narrator and main character in the story is a despicable person who nonetheless needs to be sympathise with; this is perfectly projected through McEwan's reading hence my recommendation. ...more
Sakshi Kathuria
Oct 23, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book was a delicious read despite and maybe because of the short yet brilliant & economically caustic narrative of something that may have happened with him(rumors are rife, you know) in his artistic writer's journey. The subterfuge of the mystery is appreciatively subtle and understated and a mark of great literary writing to me. Besides, this book made me find the most beautiful tapestry of words for a 'Reader'. Here it goes for the delight of all.

"I experienced only the glow of an extrao
Aug 02, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: audiobooks
A very enjoyable, engaging short story by Ian McEwan. It tells the story of two friends, both writers, whose careers take completely different paths. The story features a deliciously villainous twist that is perhaps not completely unexpected, but is pretty dramatic and well-executed all the same. McEwan’s characteristic lyrical prose lends itself well to narration and the author does an excellent job bringing his own story to life.
Sharon Metcalf
My Purple Scented Novel by Ian McEwan was a cleverly written short story. It had the making of a great full length novel but this is not to take anything away from the story that was delivered.

It started out with a declaration about a life taken and the narrator indicates the words that follow can be considered his confession. Well, naturally I was intrigued. Without sharing too many details - it is after all a short story - a one-sided story of two friends unfolded. It spoke to me of unadmitted
You can listen to this here, free at the New Yorker:

Theme: creative borrowing

What is friendship if this is how friends behave?
This, a short story, cannot in depth explore the morality and consequences of actions taken.

Not my favourite McEwan, but it was a reasonably entertaining way to spend half an hour yesterday evening - I listened to Ian McEwan himself read it here, but the story is also there in text-form if you'd rather read it. An author recounts his career and its parallels with the career of his close friend, until one day he has a change of fortune. ...more
Nov 09, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is a 20 minute read. How can one give 5 stars to something so short? I'm not sure why this was published by itself instead as part of a short story collection. It is the smallest book I've ever seen and I've seen many picture books for small children.

I am a big fan of McEwan and this is pure McEwan. It is entertaining, cleverly done and thought provoking - usual elements in his books. I love the way he presents a moral issue and never tries to influence your opinion. I would highly recommen
Jun 11, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition

One of the best McEwan's in my humble opinion (and I've not read all his oeuvre). The friendship reminded me a bit of his Amersterdam.

This was seeing a master craftsman at his work, where every word has it's place and is necessary. At the same time no unnecessary words or tangents. Superb craftsmanship in my opinion. And I'm still amazed, angry, almost laughing at the audacity. Nah as McEwan says, friendships get complicated like any other thing human.

An ARC gently given by publisher/author via
Sep 23, 2018 rated it really liked it
A very entertaining short story. My Purple Scented Novel is classic McEwan; and unlikeable character, doing unlikeable things, who for some reason you don’t end up hating, and at moments you even feel empathy for. McEwan is, in this way, the master of making his reader uncomfortable. This story is no exception.
Dec 31, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This was really enjoyable and also very short which is good because it wanted to have read 100 books before the new year and I wouldn't have been able to finish the other book I'm reading before the new year. ...more
Daniel Sevitt
Oct 13, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: literary-fiction
A delicious amuse bouche of a tale. 30-odd pages to celebrate McEwan's 70th birthday. I don't believe there is any new ground covered here with a breezy tale of literary jealousy and malfeasance that harks back to Amsterdam and The Information and slyly references both Amis and McEwan himself. In and out in less than 30 minutes, but fun while it lasts. ...more
Apr 14, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: zread-in-2020
This was a punchy little short story, exhibiting McEwan’s usual delicate touch. The story follows university friends, both with lofty literary ambitions, whose lives follow quite different trajectories, until their destinies converge and invert as a result of subterfuge.
Oct 02, 2018 rated it really liked it
This book is tiny. Only 34 pages. So didn't take long to read. The writing was amazing. Won't be long before I pick up another of his books. Love the characters and totally didn't see that ending coming from the blurb, I had another ending in mind. 😄😂

I recommend this book. And I want to see a longer book with the same characters in it. Find out more about them.
Oct 14, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
McEwan is always McEwan. This short story is a little jewel and it's majestically written. It's very smooth and captivating.
To all fans of McEwan, I recommend you this little book. You're gonna love it!
Emily Dickson
Feb 19, 2021 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This was v v fun thanks Molly hehe
Doug H
Aug 29, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Clever short story, free here:

Enjoyed the deadpan first person POV. I (used to) know someone like this creep of a narrator.
Anne (ReadEatGameRepeat)
Oct 30, 2018 rated it really liked it
3.5 stars - This book is short and sweet and I enjoyed it quite a bit. Its very interesting since I normally dont really read books like this, I guess I should make more of an effort to broaden my horizon.
Zoe Hall
Aug 06, 2018 rated it liked it
Shelves: 3-stars
I read this book in less than 20 minutes. A very quick read. There’s not much else to say! Another book to tick off my McEwan ‘to be read’ list!!
A 4,5 star read. Too bad it is so short, but maybe the power is just in this shortness. Wonderful use oflanguage, as always Ian McEwan is a master.
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 next »

Readers also enjoyed

  • Dallas, November 22, 1963
  • Rain
  • The Part-Time Job
  • Half-Truths and Semi-Miracles
  • Perché non eravamo pronti
  • The Gifts of Reading
  • Escape From New York
  • Stone Mattress
  • Casting Shadows
  • This Is This Country: The official book of the BAFTA award-winning show
  • Latest Readings
  • Mr Salary
  • La moglie magica
  • The Missing Girl
  • The Victim
  • Dei bambini non si sa niente
  • Come Rain or Come Shine
See similar books…
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

Related Articles

Kazuo Ishiguro insists he’s an optimist about technology.  “I'm not one of these people who thinks it's going to come and destroy us,” he...
396 likes · 37 comments
“I experienced only the glow of an extraordinary reading experience, a form of profound gratitude familiar to all who love literature.” 1 likes
“We're family.

We raise our glasses.

More quotes…