Monday 1 October 2012

Oh Ian how I love thee!!

Aaah - no, that's not my husband's name... hope he doesn't read this and get the wrong idea!

It is of course author, Ian McEwan, of whom I speak so adoringly.

He's just been keeping me company on a recent week in the sunshine, in the form of his latest book - Sweet Tooth.

I LOVED this book - from the first page to the last.

It was the sort of book that has you saying "just one more page" when you know you should be putting it down and going off to do something else; like making a meal, playing with a kid or talking to a husband... you know, the important life stuff!

This book was much more like Atonement than On Chesil Beach, it was more fast-paced, had a sense of intrigue, there was a twist that kept you reading to the very last word and then left you with a litle moment of "I wonder" at the end.

Loved it.

It's set in 1970's London, with the main character Serena Frome (pronounced to rhyme with Plume), a Cambridge graduate and recent employee of MI5, the Military Intelligence section of the UK Secret Service, taking on her first 'real' assignment.

I love a good espionage novel, so something that takes you inside the supposedly glamourous world of the spy had me from the start.  What you find instead is how banal and embedded in paperwork much of what they did in a day's work actually is.

It's also interesting to read of the place of women in the service at this time, and to realise how very much has changed since the beginning of my lifetime to now, in the way women are treated within the workplace.

Serena's project is particularly interesting as she is part of what was termed, the Cultural Cold War. The US was at loggerheads with the (then) USSR - and one of the jobs of MI5 was to foster writers who supported the view that the world of Communism was not all the Russians said it was cracked up to be - but rather provided citizens with a fairly bleak and barren lifestyle.
It was a competition of who was the greater nation, from a cultural perspective.

The aim was to give these writers financial support that they might then produce works that criticised communism and the USSR, but this was done in a way that the writers did not know where the funding was coming from - it was not a directive of what they had to write - rather choosing the right writers to begin with and hoping they produces work with the right views!

I found the information about the cultural Cold War to be really interesting as it is something of which I knew very little, and as I have said before, it's always nice to learn something new from a book, be it fiction or non-fiction.

Can't recommend this book highly enough.

On another note - I bought this book from a fabulous Melbourne eastern suburbs bookstore that I hadn't visited in some time, having sourced my reading material of late from a mix of e-books, library and online purchases.

It reminded me what a pleasure it is to shop in a real 'bricks and mortar' store.
One where there are reviews for books written on the shelves, where the staff are knowledgeable about the books they sell, and have and will offer an educated opinion on what is on offer.
Thank you Tim's.

What about you?
Where do you source your books? Are you an online shopper or do you have a favourite special store you frequent?

And what book is on your bedside table at the moment?
All recommendations gratefully accepted!


Kat McNally said...

So rapt you're joining us again for Blogtoberfest! And, as a sister book lover, I am delighted to see that you are treating us to a book review.
I have about six books on the go at the moment... for some reason I am not sitting down long enough to finish one! I think you will inspire me in this regard. :-)
Kat xxx

Leonie said...

Oooh that sounds fab. I loves me a spot of Ian. Atonement was one of those books that stayed with me for ages after reading. Also I couldn't wait to get back to it, while doing other things, (like eating, sleeping, driving, working, attending to the family etc.
I'm reading The Cunning Man, by Robertson Davies, which I am enjoying. but I got a new book for my birthday, Imposture, by Benjamin Markovits. Sooo excited, Robertson might have to take a back seat for a while.

nicole said...

ooh that sounds like a good read!
at the moment, i'm reading game of thrones. and i'm LOVING it! a total page turner, or button pusher as it would seem (i'm reading it on the kindle :D)

happy blogtoberfest!

Jane said...

Hmm might have to put this on my list to read! Something I don't do enough of these days. Actually I did finish a great novel a little while ago called Geek Love, which I read about on the blog 'Inside a Black Apple'. A bit creepy but riveting. I am currently reading Winne the Pooh and Wind in the Willows to the kids small and big, which is nice too! Our closest local bookshop recently closed which was quite a loss. We bought a lot of kids' books from them. I like to support bricks & mortar but it is becoming more difficult.

Annie said...

Glad you're finding time for YOU to read. I'm in a quilting frenzy right now and attacking my UFO pile. Loving the holidays. Books beside my bed right now, are Change Your Thinking, and Be Different. Waiting for some new glasses to arrive so I can focus on the small print.

rachelmp said...

I'm reading the Peter Carey book you recommended, Chemistry of Tears and Antonement just landed in my library bag yesterday. Yes, Enablers... I am here :)