A Sweet Tooth by Ian McEwan

I'm a fan of Mr McEwan's writing and this latest offering didn't disappoint. Set in 1970s England, a girl fresh out of Cambridge with a Maths degree is recruited to a junior post in MI5. She is tasked with recruiting an author whose writing, it is felt, will help to promote anti-communist propaganda. The plot turns into a love story with a surprising twist at the end. If you are a writer you might find, as an interesting bonus, an insight into a creative writers' thought processes amongst the pages. If you haven't yet read Ian McEwan's books I recommend his Booker Prize -winning Abandonment (made into the film starring Keira Knightley); Amsterdam; and The Children Act.

I may have an inferiority complex about huge gaps in my reading (why else who anybody embark upon a literature degree in their sixties - but it seemed like a good idea at the time) because I feel a strange compulsion to read stuff mentioned in books by writers who I admire. Which is how, after returning my books yesterday, I came to pick up the only library copy of The Faerie Queen by Edmund Spenser (mentioned in Sweet Tooth), plus  a Readers Guide to the aforementioned, written by Elizabeth Heale. OMG. I knew that The Faerie Queen was 16th Century writing but I hadn't realised that it's a 1055 page long poem. I may be labelled a philistine for saying this, but I find it unsurprising that each of these books has  been stamped out of the library only once in the past - in 2009. I wonder who has managed to get through it in the last four centuries? Possibly only people carrying out postgraduate research. Most unlikely that I will ever get past the first dozen or so pages!

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