'Sweet Tooth' by Ian McEwan17 January 2013
Last August, in Edinburgh, we saw Mark Lawson interviewing Ian McEwan about his new novel, ‘Sweet Tooth’ – a spy story set in the early 1970s at the height of the cold war. I've now got around to reading ‘Sweet Tooth’ (as an unabridged audio book, narrated by Juliet Stevenson). It tells the story of Serena Frome (rhymes with plume), a Cambridge graduate who joins MI5 and is deployed to act as a patron to a promising young writer, T H Haley, whom it is hoped will write anti-communist novels. Haley is not to know that the funding Serena brings comes from MI5 and deception and lies create a dangerous balance in their relationship. ‘Sweet Tooth’, however, is not really a spy novel – it is about creativity, literature and fiction. Who is writing the narrative of our lives – and where do they get their ideas from? It was an enjoyable read, with a fine cast of suspicious characters, and it keeps the reader guessing to the end about where the inevitable twist will come from.