The Innocent
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The Innocent

By (author) Ian McEwan

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The setting is Berlin. Into this divided city, wrenched between East and West, between past and present; comes twenty-five-year-old Leonard Marnham, assigned to a British-American surveillance team. Though only a pawn in an international plot that is never fully revealed to him, Leonard uses his secret work to escape the bonds of his ordinary life - and to lose his unwanted innocence. The promise of his new life begins to be fulfilled as Leonard becomes a crucial part of the surveillance team, while simultaneously being initiated into a new world of love and sex by Maria, a beautiful young German woman. It is a promise that turns to horror in the course of one terrible evening - a night when Leonard Marnham learns just how much of his innocence he's willing to shed.

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  • Paperback | 240 pages
  • 128 x 198 x 20mm | 200g
  • 01 Sep 1998
  • VINTAGE
  • London
  • English
  • 0099277093
  • 9780099277095
  • 17,176

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Author Information

Ian McEwan is the author of two collections of stories and twelve previous novels, including Enduring Love, Amsterdam, for which he won the Booker Prize in 1998, Atonement and, most recently, Solar.

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Review quote

"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: but then cleverness is a real virtue here, the best guide possible to the questionable territory between innocence and whatever comes after" London Review of Books "It's the most tightly plotted of Ian McEwan's novels, and to argue properly for its excellence would involve showing how the political and emotional themes are inseparable from its narrative ingenuity, the patterns of revelation and about-turn which mark its final pages" -- Jonathan Coe Guardian "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 "Deft, taut fiction... Many English writers have been compared to Evelyn Waugh, often wrongly, but this book can stand with the master's best" The Times

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Review text

In part a thriller, in which the machinations of a top-secret Cold War telephone-tapping operation (the real-life 1955 Operation Gold in Berlin) are investigated and explained, and in part a murder/romance - boy meets girl, boy meets girl's ex-husband, ex-husband meets a graphically sticky end. Concise and controlled; a masterly, evocative page-turner. (Kirkus UK)

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Flap copy

The setting is Berlin. Into this divided city, wrenched between East and West, between past and present; comes twenty-five-year-old Leonard Marnham, assigned to a British-American surveillance team. Though only a pawn in an international plot that is never fully revealed to him, Leonard uses his secret work to escape the bonds of his ordinary life -- and to lose his unwanted innocence. The promise of his new life begins to be fulfilled as Leonard becomes a crucial part of the surveillance team, while simultaneously being initiated into a new world of love and sex by Maria, a beautiful young German woman. It is a promise that turns to horror in the course of one terrible evening -- a night when Leonard Marnham learns just how much of his innocence he's willing to shed. "From the Paperback edition.

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