Florence (Lefty) MacIntosh's Reviews > Sweet Tooth

Sweet Tooth by Ian McEwan
Rate this book
Clear rating

by
10856439
's review

really liked it
bookshelves: lit-brits, 2013, reviewed, dark, spy-thriller

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, having disgraced myself and ruined my lover, though he certainly had a hand in his own undoing.
A spy novel, a given it’s about deception but with layers upon layers, deception taken to a whole new level. And to give credit where credit is due he’s masterful at pulling off the female voice.
Serena is beautiful, highly intelligent & well educated, raised with all the privileges of upper class society - and proof positive that emotional & intellectual intelligence don’t necessarily go hand-in-hand. Her tastes run to “clever, amoral, inventive, destructive men, single-minded, selfish, emotionally cool, and coolly attractive.” preferences that result in a series of decidedly bleak love affairs. I should have been wafted through life with the special dispensation that beauty bestows, discarding men at every turn. Instead, they abandoned me, or died on me. Or married.
Not a difficult read but it does require patience. At times it’s sharp & witty, then ploddingly slow, then a flash of brilliance, then back to a slog. Culminates in a pretty amazing ending though, I thought it was great. So, one of the most inconsistently written novels I’ve read. I’m ambivalent, how do you rate a book that alternates between dull and dazzling? I will read McEwan again, this one 3 1/2 stars rounded up to 4. I'm one of those people that like my novels dark now and then – just wish he’d work on the pacing…
35 likes · flag

Sign into Goodreads to see if any of your friends have read Sweet Tooth.
Sign In »

Reading Progress

February 19, 2013 – Shelved
May 21, 2013 – Started Reading
May 27, 2013 – Finished Reading

Comments Showing 1-27 of 27 (27 new)

dateDown arrow    newest »

message 1: by Jen (new)

Jen Are you enjoying it, Florence? I've heard mixed reviews.


Florence (Lefty) MacIntosh I am Jen. Can see how it might not be everyones taste - but yes, I think it's good. Only 50 pgs in.


message 3: by Fiona (new) - added it

Fiona I'm a reading 'Atonement' now. Might read this as well.


Florence (Lefty) MacIntosh Fiona wrote: "I'm a reading 'Atonement' now. Might read this as well."

I'll likely read Atonement as well Fiona. Will watch for how you like it.


message 5: by Ivonne (new) - added it

Ivonne Rovira If you like this book, you'll be the second person to recommend it to me.


Florence (Lefty) MacIntosh Ivonne wrote: "If you like this book, you'll be the second person to recommend it to me."

I'm swinging between liking it, and not liking it, then liking it again, then not liking it, lol. Strange book.


message 7: by Ivonne (new) - added it

Ivonne Rovira My friend who loved and highly recommended it likes books that are pretty dark, which makes me wonder if I'd like it. I went ahead and bought it on Audible.com, but I don't know if I'll actually get around to it unless you recommend it.


message 8: by Gary (new) - added it

Gary  the Bookworm McEwan's novels are hard to categorize: Atonement and Saturday are terrific; Amsterdam and On Chesil Beach not so much. Based on your review I will definitely read this.


message 9: by Agnes (new)

Agnes Houston It doesn't matter if YOU liked it, it's if I would like it that matters, lol! What do you think Florence? I've never read McEwan either, think it's my cupa?


Florence (Lefty) MacIntosh Gary wrote: "McEwan's novels are hard to categorize: Atonement and Saturday are terrific; Amsterdam and On Chesil Beach not so much. Based on your review I will definitely read this."

Good, you've obviously read a lot of McEwan, I'd like to see how you think it stacks up. Adding Saturday looks good, appeals to me more than Atonement. Thanks Gary.


Florence (Lefty) MacIntosh Ivonne wrote: "My friend who loved and highly recommended it likes books that are pretty dark, which makes me wonder if I'd like it. I went ahead and bought it on Audible.com, but I don't know if I'll actually ge..."

Hi Ivonne, it is pretty dark & moody, no getting around it. If that's not appealing I can't see that you'd like it.


Florence (Lefty) MacIntosh Agnes wrote: "It doesn't matter if YOU liked it, it's if I would like it that matters, lol! What do you think Florence? I've never read McEwan either, think it's my cupa?"

How would I know, you are a complete enigma to me. Actually now that I ponder this, you'd totally relate to Serena. You share the same taste in men, screwed up, but fascinating:)


message 13: by Agnes (new)

Agnes Houston I'm an enigma to myself - it's not easy being me:) Sure can pick em, can't I. Seems to me you've cruised with a few in your day. Have you forgotten Trow?


message 14: by Fiona (last edited Jun 07, 2013 09:33PM) (new) - added it

Fiona I just finished Atonement a few days ago. It was boring at first but I ended up really liking it. I would have gave it 3 1.2 stars but GR's won't let me, so I gave it 4. I'm going to add this. Really good review Florence:)


message 15: by Ivonne (new) - added it

Ivonne Rovira I don't mind reading dark things, but I have to pace myself. I couldn't read The Bluest Eye and The Color Purple (both of which I'm scouting out for the AP English class I'm teaching next year) in a row with Gone Girl, The Postman Always Rings Twice, The Talented Mr. Ripley, Brave New World, Brideshead Revisited, or anything by Fay Weldon or James Lee Burke. I need a little Alexander McCall Smith or Nancy Atherton or Agatha Christie to keep from taking a razor blade to my wrists!


Florence (Lefty) MacIntosh Agnes wrote: "I'm an enigma to myself - it's not easy being me:) Sure can pick em, can't I. Seems to me you've cruised with a few in your day. Have you forgotten Trow?"

Trou, not Trow. Nope, haven't forgotten (don't want to either) But I'm all grown up now:)


Florence (Lefty) MacIntosh Ivonne wrote: "I don't mind reading dark things, but I have to pace myself. I couldn't read The Bluest Eye and The Color Purple (both of which I'm scouting out for the AP English class I'm teaching next year) in ..."

Holy crackers Ivonne, agree. You need to mix in some lightness on that TBR list. This wouldn't serve:) But when you're in the mood for it and based on your reading preferences, I suspect you would enjoy it. She forms an obsession for a writer solely based on reading his books, it's a twist handled really well.


Florence (Lefty) MacIntosh Fiona wrote: "I just finished Atonement a few days ago. It was boring at first but I ended up really liking it. I would have gave it 3 1.2 stars but GR's won't let me, so I gave it 4. I'm going to add this. Real..."

Thanks Fiona, and for letting me know how you made out on Atonement. I've decided to read Saturday next then take it from there.


message 19: by Ivonne (new) - added it

Ivonne Rovira At the risk of sounding like a philistine, Ian McEwan sure sounds like Debbie Downer.


Florence (Lefty) MacIntosh Ivonne wrote: "At the risk of sounding like a philistine, Ian McEwan sure sounds like Debbie Downer."

At the risk of also sounding like a philistine I had to google Debbie Downer:) It's not actually depressing, just dark.


message 21: by Ian (new)

Ian "Marvin" Graye I love your discussion of the flow and momentum of the book.


Florence (Lefty) MacIntosh Alternating between dull and dazzling, yes. I'll admit to a self-satisfied smirk over that one. See how honest I am? Thanks Ian, you're too kind!


message 23: by Fiona (new) - added it

Fiona Florence wrote: "Alternating between dull and dazzling, yes. I'll admit to a self-satisfied smirk over that one. See how honest I am? Thanks Ian, you're too kind!"

You should put it to music Florence!


Florence (Lefty) MacIntosh Fiona wrote: "Florence wrote: "Alternating between dull and dazzling, yes. I'll admit to a self-satisfied smirk over that one. See how honest I am? Thanks Ian, you're too kind!"

You should put it to music Flore..."


You REALLY don't want to hear my sing...


message 25: by Ian (new)

Ian "Marvin" Graye Florence wrote: "You REALLY don't want to hear me sing..."

Can't you use your Machine?


Florence (Lefty) MacIntosh Ian wrote: "Florence wrote: "You REALLY don't want to hear me sing..."

Can't you use your Machine?"


You stumped me on that one Ian...what Machine?


Lana P. You nailed it, especially with your comment about "patience," even so, I really enjoyed the journey.


back to top