Nutshell – Ian McEwan

Description by the publisher


Trudy has betrayed her husband, John. She’s still in the marital home – a dilapidated, priceless London townhouse – but not with John. Instead, she’s with his brother, the profoundly banal Claude, and the two of them have a plan. But there is a witness to their plot: the inquisitive, nine-month-old resident of Trudy’s womb.

Told from a perspective unlike any other, Nutshell is a classic tale of murder and deceit from one of the world’s master storytellers.


My review

Once again Ian McEwan demonstrates what a masterfully brilliant writer he is!

Who would give second thoughts at being enthusiastic about knowing what a 8-month-old foetus is thinking about the outside world and its inner life? I wasn’t interested at first and wondered what got into McEwan to imagine such a protagonist: a adult conscience in an unborn being???
But then you just get into the story, the foetus character is incredibly believable and slowly you realise you are in a 21st-century retelling of one of the most famous Shakespearean plays: Hamlet.

How can I pretend to write a well-structured review after reading this ingeniously crafted opus? I lay down the arms and show you the way instead to The Guardian’s in-depth review of Nutshell.

Give me my go, my afterlife, paradise on earth, even a hell, a thirteenth floor, I can take it. I believe in life after birth, though I know that separating hope from fact is hard. Something short of eternity will do. Three score and ten? Wrap them up, I’ll take them. On hope – I’ve been hearing about the latest slaughters in pursuit of dreams of the life beyond. Mayhem in this world, bliss in the next. Fresh-bearded young men with beautiful skin and long guns on Boulevard Voltaire gazing into the beautiful, disbelieving eyes of their own generation. It wasn’t hatred that killed the innocents but faith, that famished ghost, still revered, even in the mildest quarters. Long ago, someone pronounced groundless certainty a virtue. Now, the politest people say it is. I’ve heard their Sunday-morning broadcasts from cathedral precincts. Europe’s most virtuous spectres, religion and, when it faltered, godless utopias bursting with scientific proofs, together they scorched the earth from the tenth to the twentieth centuries. Here they come again, risen in the East, pursuing their millennium, teaching toddlers to slit the throats of teddy bears. And here I am with my home-grown faith in the life beyond. I know it’s more of a radio programme. The voices I hear are not, or not only, in my head. I believe my time will come. I’m virtuous too.

Via Netgalley: many thanks to the publisher for this ARC in exchange of an honest review.


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