Nutshell (Ian McEwan)

January 18, 2018

3.5/5 Stars

 

Bizarre yet compelling plot - wonderful but for a few minor issues.

I love Ian McEwan's writing. Books like Atonement, Saturday, Enduring Love - they're such fantastic reads, and set the bar so incredibly high, that I thus get disappointed if any of his other books don't reach such lofty heights.

Nutshell had a concept that instantly intrigued me - a Hamlet-style tale, told from the perspective of an unborn baby, hidden in Trudy's (Gertrude's!) womb. How could you not want to read a tale told from such a bonkers perspective, eh?

 

 


For the most part, it delivered - as long as you went along for the ride, and didn't question it too much. Simply put, Trudy is having it away with her brother-in-law Claude, whilst plotting to murder her ex-partner John. That's essentially it - there's not much else to it, apart from lots of sex scenes told from the foetus's point of view (amusing at first, somewhat tedious after a while), and lots of booze being consumed (see above). 

The quality of writing is outstanding, as you might expect. But I couldn't help thinking that what McEwan actually had here was a short story, rather than an entire novel. The concept is sheer brilliance, but it feels over-stretched - with scenes written in for the sake of it, rather than for the benefit of the story itself. 

However, it's still highly readable and for the most part, good fun. Only one thing that drove me totally mad throughout (mainly because I wasn't suspending my disbelief enough) - how could a foetus see everything that was going on, whilst being in the womb? Ahem. If you're able to get over that small point, you'll be fine. 

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