Posts Tagged ‘Ian McEwan’

Encounter with the author as a young man: Spying and romance mingle in Ian McEwan’s understated ‘Sweet Tooth’

March 13, 2015

By Matthew E. Milliken
MEMwrites.wordpress.com
March 13, 2015

Sweet Tooth, the 2012 novel by British authorIan McEwan, is a tale of social upheaval, literature, betrayal and romance.

The novel’s first paragraph sets the stage in brisk fashion:

My name is Serena Frome (rhymes with plume) 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.

These sentences are somewhat misleading. (This is a spy novel, after all.) Frome never journeys anyplace more distant or exotic than Brighton, a coastal town about 50 miles south of London, the only foreigner she encounters is an American who’s invited to present a lecture at MI5’s offices, and she never meets anyone more hostile than a jealous co-worker. Even so, Frome finds herself in a certain kind of emotional peril when she becomes embroiled in a web of intrigue thanks to her past and present lovers.

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Captivating ‘Atonement’ turns on a tragic mistake

October 4, 2012

About half of the film Atonement is set on a posh English country estate during a scorching 1930s day. The estate, which belongs to the Tallis family, is being visited by the Quincey children, a teenaged girl and her two younger brothers, who are cousins of the Tallises, and by two young men.

One of those men is Robbie Turner. Like middle child Cecilia Tallis, he has just graduated from university. In truth, he lives on the family estate; his late father was and his mother is a longtime household servant. In the fashion of virtually every love story involving upper-crust Britons, Turner and Cecilia must fight to acknowledge their feelings for one another.

As the youngest Tallis child, 13-year-old Briony, watches Turner and Cecilia over the course of the day, she becomes convinced that he is a sex maniac.

That night, what should be an ordinary dinner party is disrupted when everyone abruptly realizes that the two Quincey boys have run away. During a chaotic search, Briony runs across Lola Quincey being raped. Neither she nor Lola see the face of the rapist, but Briony is a girl of fierce conviction. She accuses Turner.

Cut to the French countryside some years later. The Nazis have routed the English expeditionary force; Turner and two fellow soldiers make their way to the coast to await rescue by the British navy. But that turns out to be no sure thing: The Luftwaffe is bombing troop carriers in the Channel, and thousands of men are now trapped between the water and the advancing Nazi war machine.

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