Serena Frome, the beautiful mathematician daughter of an Anglican bishop, has a brief affair with an older man during her final year at Cambridge, and finds herself being groomed for the Intelligence Service. The year is 1972: Britain, confronting economic disaster, is being torn apart by industrial unrest and Irish terrorism and faces its fifth state of emergency. The Cold War has entered a moribund phase but the fight goes on and MI5 hesitates at little to influence hearts and minds.
Serena, a compulsive reader of novels, is sent by her new employers on a secret mission that brings her into the literary world of Tom Haley, a promising young writer. First, she loves his stories, then she begins to love the man. Can she maintain the fiction of her undercover life? And who is deceiving whom? To answer these questions, Serena must abandon the first rule of espionage—trust no one.
Ian McEwan masterfully entwines espionage and desire in an unforgettable story of intrigue, betrayal and love.
IAN MCEWAN is the bestselling author of 14 books, including the novels Solar; On Chesil Beach; Saturday; Atonement, winner of the National Book Critics Circle Award and the W. H. Smith Literary Award; The Comfort of Strangers and Black Dogs, both shortlisted for the Booker Prize; Amsterdam, winner of the Booker Prize; and The Child in Time, winner of the Whitbread Award; as well as the story collections First Love, Last Rites, winner of the Somerset Maugham Award, and In Between the Sheets. He lives in England.
#1 NATIONAL BESTSELLER INTERNATIONAL BESTSELLER
"A subtly and sweetly subversive novel [that is a] masterful manipulation of the relationship(s) between fiction and truth ... Britain’s foremost living novelist has written a book as drily funny as it is thoughtful." —Kirkus Reviews, starred review
"McEwan's most stylish and personal book to date ... The year's most intensely enjoyable novel." —The Daily Beast
“This is a great big beautiful Russian doll of a novel, and its construction – deft, tight, exhilaratingly immaculate – is a huge part of its pleasure ... Sweet Tooth is a comic novel and a novel of ideas, but, unlike so many of those, it also exerts a keen emotional pull.” —Julie Myerson, The Observer
"Thoroughly clever ... a sublime novel about novels, about writing them and reading them and the spying that goes on in doing both ... McEwan has spied on real life to write Sweet Tooth, and in reading it we are invited to spy on him ... Rich and enjoyable." —Financial Times
"A wisecracking thriller hightailing between love and betrayal, with serious counter-espionage credentials thrown in … This is ultimately a book about writing, wordplay and knowingness." —The Telegraph
“McEwan writes with his usual clinical precision, brilliantly evoking the London of dingy Camden flats, the three-day week and IRA atrocities. His assumption of a female persona is pitch-perfect.” —Daily Mail
“A disgraced spy, a failed mission, a ruined lover: Ian McEwan’s new novel, Sweet Tooth, opens at full tilt ... The novel’s pleasures are multiple and, as always with McEwan, they begin with the storytelling.” —Bloomberg Businessweek
“Sweet Tooth takes the expectations and tropes of the Cold War thriller and ratchets up the suspense ... A well-crafted pleasure to read, its smooth prose and slippery intelligence sliding down like cream.” —The Independent
“Gloriously readable and, at times, wickedly funny.” —Irish Times
"McEwan fans won’t be disappointed by Sweet Tooth, and newcomers to the author will be meeting him at the top of his game." —The Globe and Mail