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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.
Enthralling, beguiling and totally addictive from the first page to the last… McEwan’s sense of time and place is authentic with his trademark attention to details of the social history of the period - Bristol Magazine
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
No contemporary novelist is more enthralled by what goes on inside the human skull than Ian McEwan... Doubling back and forth across genre boundaries, Sweet Tooth takes risks...this acute, witty novel is a winningly cunning addition to McEwan’s fictional surveys of intelligence. - Sunday Times
Playful, comic... This is a great big Russian doll of a novel, and in its construction – deft, tight, exhilaratingly immaculate – is a huge part of its pleasure. - Observer
A thoroughly clever novel...a sublime novel about novels, about writing them and reading them and the spying that goes on in doing both...very impressive...rich and enjoyable. - Financial Times
Gave us another of his delightful posh-totty narrators, young Serena Frome, who is recruited into the intelligence services in the 1970s. - The Times
What you see is not what you get, and the twist at the end reminds us of how many of this author’s works confound readers imaginations... A well-crafted pleasure to read, its smooth prose and slippery intelligence sliding down like cream. - Independent
Simultaneously a tongue-in-cheek riff on his own early stories, a typically assured spy novel with a sting in the tail, and a meditation on the relationship between reader and writer. - Guardian
The true subject of this smart and tricky novel, set inside a cold war espionage operation, is the border between make-believe and reality. - New York Times
A wisecracking thriller hightailing between love and betrayal, with serious counter-espionage credentials thrown in... This is ultimately a book about writing, wordplay and knowingness. - Sunday Telegraph
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
Given McEwan’s ability to make riveting fiction out of English politics (not easy), it would be hard to imagine anyone better equipped to write such a story... Delicious... Gripping. - Guardian
Parallels and contrasts between the mind-sets and mind games of espionage agents and writers of fiction are deftly teased out... acute, witty, cunningly crafted and full of fascinating autobiographical insights. - Sunday Times
Gloriously readable and, at times, wickedly funny. - Irish Times
Had McEwan, through Serena’s benefit of hindsight in narrating her life, planted the clues? Let every reader have the pleasure of finding out. - Sunday Express
A curious piece of autobiographical fiction. - Evening Standard
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
I loved it. It reminded me of his most successful novel, Atonement. - Harpers Bazaar Online
McEwan’s mastery dazzles us in this superbly deft and witty story of betrayal and intrigue, love, and the invented self. - GQ
Fans of Ian McEwan should rejoice with this arrival of this novel, because Sweet Tooth is McEwan's finest work since 2001's Atonement. - Sunday Business Post
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
Gripping. - Evening Standard ES Magazine
Full of ideas. - Metro
Cleverly metafictional. - Prospect
One of the most hotly anticipated novels of the year...it’s brilliant.
- Sunday Business Post
McEwan, as always, presents an engaging narrator... The plot is fantastic... McEwan plays with the readers expectations, and surpasses them all with a fabulous ending that makes me itch to re-read this superb novel all over again. Sweet Tooth marks another triumph for a brilliant British author. - Bookgeeks.co.uk
A pleasing, tricksy beast with a subsumed sense of metatextuality likely to be pleasing to his fans. - Bookmunch
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
Dazzling. - Essentials
A funny, sad and intriguing spy novel/love story. - Irish Times
A cold-war novel which I thoroughly enjoyed. - Irish Times
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
About the Author
Ian McEwan is a critically acclaimed author of short stories and novels for adults, as well as The Daydreamer, a children's novel illustrated by Anthony Browne. His first published work, a collection of short stories, First Love, Last Rites, won the Somerset Maugham Award. His novels include The Child in Time, which won the 1987 Whitbread Novel of the Year Award, The Cement Garden, Enduring Love, Amsterdam, which won the 1998 Booker Prize, Atonement, Saturday,On Chesil Beach, Solar, Sweet Tooth and The Children Act.