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The Innocent: Or the Special Relationship Paperback – September 1, 1998
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From Publishers Weekly
McEwan's name will be on everyone's lips with his startling new novel, an impeccably constructed psychological thriller set in Berlin during the Cold War. Basing his story on an actual (but little known) incident, he tells of the secret tunnel under the Soviet sector which the British and Americans built in 1954 to gain access to the Russians' communication system. The protagonist, Leonard Marnham, is a 25-year-old, naive, unsophisticated English post office technician who is astonished and alarmed to find himself involved in a top-secret operation. At the same time that he loses his political innocence, Leonard experiences his sexual initiation in a clandestine affair with a German divorcee five years his senior. As his two secret worlds come together, events develop into a gruesome nightmare, far more macabre than anything McEwan ( The Child in Time ) has previously written, building to a searing, unforgettable scene of surrealist intensity in which Leonard and his lover try to conceal evidence of a murder. Acting to save himself from a prison sentence, Leonard desperately performs an act of espionage whose ironic consequences resonate down the years to a twister of an ending. Though its plot rivals any thriller in narrative tension, this novel is also a character study--of a young man coming of age in bizarre circumstances, and of differences in national character: the gentlemanly Brits, all decorum and civility; the brash, impatient Americans; the cynical Germans. McEwan's neat, tensile prose raises this book to the highest level of the genre. Film rights to Paramount; BOMC and QPB featured alternates.
Copyright 1990 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
"The plot crackles like thin ice with dread and suspense" * Sunday Times * "Powerful and disturbing...a tour de force" * New York Times * "To call The Innocent a spy novel would be like calling Lord of the Flies a boy's adventure yarn...it ensure McEwan's major status" * Sunday Times * "The sheer cleverness of the book is dazzling, and only fully to be appreciated as you turn the last page" * London Review of Books * "Generous in scale, simple in its hideous impact... Ironically, he has celebrated the obsequies of the East-West spy thriller by writing one of the subtlest" * Mail on Sunday *
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His descriptions of American plenty and arrogance are a little over-drawn. But, then I may be sensitive to the slights. After all, we did put a lot of effort into the winning of WW2 .
The story is compelling, the details of the dismembering of the corpse, are chilling.
There did not seem to be an intense love developed between the hero and heroine, not one that elicited the intensity of the explanatory letter.
Overalll this is a good read, it will satisfy many who have little remembrance of the early 50's postwar Germany.
While the story was spy related, I would argue it was far more a love story, recounting the growing relationship of the typically unworldly and conservative Brit Leonard meeting the liberated German Maria in the mid 1950s. The spy aspect was almost beneath the surface, and to be honest I kept asking myself "when is the spy thing going to start?" That said, subtle is probably what spying is all about, and perhaps that was conveyed in the writing.
The plot was believable, which considering it was based on a true story would be expected - I only realised this when I read the Authors notes at the end. The detail regarding the tunnel, tapping, and telecommunications I tended to skip over once I understood what Leonard was doing in Berlin, but for those interested they will enjoy.
Most recent customer reviews
into thought processes which lead to the actions.
I did not find any characters interesting ...