Love, spying and the red scare

NADINE HANCOCK
Last updated 16:07 06/02/2013

BOOK REVIEW: Sweet Tooth
By Ian McEwan (Random House, RRP $38)

I always feel like I should be reading every single piece of work published by Ian McEwan. I am aware that he is well respected in writing circles and I have thoroughly enjoyed a number of his stories, including On Chesil Beach and Atonement. However, I know there is supposed to be - or perhaps I am irrationally expecting - some deeper meaning to his work, but I feel like I am not quite getting it.

His latest, Sweet Tooth, is a perfect example of this. The story follows Serene Frome in the 1970s as she is recruited into MI5. In an attempt to combat communism, MI5 has created a special project called Sweet Tooth, which pays up-and-coming writers to produce anti-communist pieces. Sweet Tooth is Serena's first assignment. She meets author Thomas Haley, and quickly forms a relationship with him.

I'm not embarrassed to admit that I felt a lot of the politics and MI5 activity was a little over my head. So I decided that I would try to ignore the fact that I was obviously missing something and read it like a spy novel with a touch of romance. This tactic helped because by the end of the book I had really enjoyed a good story which was interesting and exciting to read.

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