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 moribund phase, but the fight goes on, especially in the cultural sphere.
Serena, a compulsive reader of novels, is sent on a ‘secret mission’ which brings her into the literary world of Tom Haley, a promising young writer. First she loves his stories, then she begins to love the man. Can she maintain the fiction of her undercover life? And who is inventing whom? To answer these questions, Serena must abandon the first rule of espionage – trust no one.
McEwan’s mastery dazzles us in this superbly deft and witty story of betrayal and intrigue, love, and the invented self.
A brilliant portrayal of 1970s Britain at its absolute worst… But it's also a gripping spy novel with some characteristic McEwan twists toward the end - Mail on Sunday
Gave us another of his delightful posh-totty narrators, young Serena Frome, who is recruited into the intelligence services in the 1970s. - The Times
A triumphant shedding of genre limitations. - London Review of Books
For most of its length, this account of a young woman's adventures in the British secret service of the 1970s reads like Le Carre-lite, but with McEwan nothing is ever quite as it seems and towards the end the reader is asked to re-examine what's gone before. Real-life friends and acquaintances of the author have walk-on parts, which you may find fascinating. - Irish Independent
Gloriously readable and, at times, wickedly funny. - Irish Times
McEwan’s prose is controlled, his observation forensic as ever... McEwan carries us with irresistible momentum to a surprise ending. - Intelligent Life
Highly entertaining. - Guardian
The great thing about McEwan is that, despite his success, he continues to work hard, producing ever more accessible and entertaining stories. - Daily Mirror
An artful game of distortion... Clever handling. - Mail on Sunday
Carefully researched. - Daily Telegraph
His assumption of a female persona is pitch-perfect. - Daily Mail
Must read... Intrigue, love and mutual betrayal by a master of the art. - The Lady
This most cunning of authors entertains and manipulates his readers. Sweet Tooth is a masterclass in the art of fiction. - Book Oxygen
Ian McEwan proves he’s still the master penman with his twelfth novel. - Grazia
An acute psychological study and a wise contemplation of the stories we tell and read and the question of who actually “owns” them. McEwan at his best. - Washington Post