BookBrowse Reviews Sweet Tooth by Ian McEwan

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Sweet Tooth

A Novel

by Ian McEwan

Sweet Tooth
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  • First Published:
    Nov 2012, 320 pages
    Paperback:
    Jul 2013, 400 pages

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Book Reviewed by:
Norah Piehl

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The Cold War is far from over. England's MI5 is determined to manipulate the cultural conversation by funding writers whose politics align with the government's. Operation "Sweet Tooth" is born. Serena Frome's life as an undercover agent is born.

Sweet Tooth is set in the early 1970s during the Cold War; its primary concern, however, is not the war of passive aggression characterized by nuclear weapon stockpiling and brinksmanship that made most of the headlines we may remember today. Instead, it focuses on what one character calls "the softest, sweetest part of the Cold War, the only truly interesting part, the war of ideas."

Specifically, it focuses on the short but eventful career of Serena Frome, a lovely young Cambridge graduate with a degree in mathematics and a passion for literature who is recruited for Great Britain's MI5 intelligence service shortly after graduation. There, after paying her dues processing paperwork and filing, she is unexpectedly assigned to an undercover mission nicknamed "Sweet Tooth."

Just as the CIA (much to their later embarrassment) used their own funding to underwrite the work of creative...

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