Saturday 16 October 2010

The Innocent by Ian McEwan

Yes, gasp in horror! After a month of all quiet I have another book review. That doesn't mean I have stopped reading. It has just taken me that long to write these. I now have a back list.

Leonard has moved away from home for the first time. He is excited and proud to be learning to live for himself. He is also going to be starting a new job as part of a surveillance team. A young and innocent Brit in the city of Berlin just after WWII. Culturally out of his comfort zone and away from his friends and family. Yet his (author would probably say innocence but I would say arrogance) doesn't let this enter his head. His innocence of other cultures and social and work situations get him into a bit of bother now and then. Nothing series other than a sharp reprimand from his only friend and boss. His ignorance of these things though mean he doesn't understand he has done anything wrong but instead feels hurt or angry. He also falls in love for the first time and once again his lack of knowledge gets him into a bit of bother. One horrible night though everything goes wrong and any innocence he had is stripped away. The events instead threaten not only his future but the future of the British-American surveillance team.

About a year ago now (possibly more than that) I finally got round to watching the film "Atonement". I had heard nothing but praise for the film. Whilst it didn't seem like my kind of thing the praise meant that I was curious (took a long time in curing that curiosity). I loved it! I don't mind admitting that I shed a tear or two and from then on was a fan of James McAvoy. By the following weekend I had also read the book and thoroughly enjoyed it. I found myself riveted to the war scenes which is also very unlike me (I skipped them when reading War and Peace). At the time I decided I would have to give his other books a try. To be honest that really doesn't mean much. I say that about a lot of new authors I try. I have good intentions but am always distracted by other books. There are too many new ones catching my eye so that I never get round to reading other authors back lists.

However, a while back I was at a second hand book sale. This one was still there by near the end and I felt I should take it home with me since out of most of the other book there this was actually a good author. I started it that weekend although the blurb at the back didn't really appeal to me. Once again I was surprised by how much I enjoyed it. Especially since I didn't find the main character in any way likable even taking his innocence and naivety into consideration. Despite the era it was set in I felt at the age of 25 he should know better and that even then there was no excuse for some of his actions (one in particular involving his girlfriend). There was, however, something endearing about him. I think I could relate to some of his social awkwardness although not his response to it. In the end I wanted everything to turn out for him. I kept this hope as I read desperately to the end. The ending wasn't quite the one I had hoped for but I think it was better for it.

As a result I have added Ian McEwan to my list of favourite authors. I have no doubts that I will read his back list. I have even looked up some of his other titles and they all look very good. I have added "Saturday" to my 'to read' list. I think what made me so cautious of this author is my friends reaction to him. People I would expect to like him and that I have shared tastes with didn't. It made me a little wary about trying others even though I loved Atonement. Not so wary now though.


  1. Nice review, If you get a chance try and read Black dogs. I've read everything he's written and black dogs really stood out for me.

  2. All of his books are on my tr list. If only there were more hours in the day. Thanks for the recommendation.