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From Innocent to Darkly Experienced
am 22. Januar 2003
Until this book, "The Innocent", written in 1989, I had only read more recent works by author Ian McEwan. He has been widely honored both in prizes that he had been nominated for, and in prizes he has won such as The Booker Prize, and the Somerset Maugham Award. If you are only familiar with his more recent work you may find yourself puzzled and disappointed as I was with this novel.
The kernel this book is built around is based on true historical events. There was a major intelligence gathering tunnel built to tap Soviet communication lines that was begun around 1953 and was abandoned when discovered by the Soviets in April of 1956. The novel begins as a Cold War spy genre book, adds a love story, and then veers off wildly in a direction worthy of a Quentin Tarantino film. Until the point I mention, I thought the book was a reasonably good read; however when the bizarre turn of events came about I only finished the book as I was close to the end and I was curious how the author would bring the whole novel to a close.
The author wrapped up his tale, again using a piece of history, but he did so in a manner that was as outlandish as the acts spawned by the final decisions of the protagonist, and made this portion of the book funny, even silly.
I have greatly enjoyed other work by Mr. McEwan and I will continue to read his new books and continue my way back through his earlier published tales. From my experience with what I have previously read, this is an anomaly for him, and I would not suggest it as a first venture in to this author's work.