Ian McEwan is the critically acclaimed author of seventeen books. His first published work, a collection of short stories, First Love, Last Rites, won the Somerset Maugham Award. His novels include The Child in Time, which won the 1987 Whitbread Novel of the Year Award; The Cement Garden; Enduring Love; Amsterdam, which won the 1998 Booker Prize; Atonement; Saturday; On Chesil Beach; Solar; Sweet Tooth; The Children Act; and Nutshell, which was a Number One bestseller. Atonement and Enduring Love have both been turned into award-winning films, The Children Act and On Chesil Beach are in production and set for release this year, and filming is currently underway for a BBC TV adaptation of The Child in Time.
Fans of McEwan (Atonement; Amsterdam) will find here his usual themes of regret, secrecy, and suffering. Nobel Laureate Michael Beard has little more to offer physics. His fifth wife begins an open affair with a handyman and then with Beard's self-proclaimed protege, Tom Aldous, who has been developing revolutionary plans for solar power. When Aldous accidentally dies in Beard's presence, Beard frames the handyman, who is convicted and imprisoned. Thus the real story begins. Beard is fired from his cushy post and, desperate for renewed success, steals Aldous's ideas. In the back of his mind lurks a secret guilt that causes further suffering evident in his ever-diminishing physical and psychological condition. The result, unfortunately, is a mild, incomplete thriller because -McEwan focuses on Beard's quotidian unhappiness, not on what could destroy him: that others know of Aldous's ideas, and the handyman knows of Beard's duplicity. Overall, this is dense with the minutiae of global warming and alternative energy, and the denouement, however pleasing, seems rather clumsy, given the 100-odd pages preceding it. Luckily, McEwan's attention to language remains. Verdict Fans of McEwan's other works will still want to see this, but others will find it only average. [See Prepub Alert, LJ 12/09.]-Stephen Morrow, Ohio Univ., Athens Copyright 2010 Reed Business Information.
In the afterglow of winning a Nobel Prize, Michael Beard lives a dismal life marked by multiple marriages, figurehead positions, and his own gluttony. However, after his most recent wife leaves him, Beard attempts to start living life to the fullest. He stumbles into this new life with a great deal of fanfare and catastrophe: covering up murder, nearly losing his penis to frostbite, and devising a plan to harness the power of the sun to save the planet. Roger Allam's English accent and gravelly voice balances a range of characters and emotions, especially Beard's arrogance and self-righteousness. More importantly, Allam's straightforward delivery of Beard's zany adventures enhances the humorous quality of McEwan's text. A Doubleday hardcover (Reviews, Feb. 1). (May) Copyright 2010 Reed Business Information.