Ian McEwan: Solar

I have cheated, though not seriously.

I intended to buy Ian McEwan’s latest novel, Solar, but instead I bought the book on CD, read by Roger Allam (who I haven’t heard of before but who read the book faultlessly).

I do this sometimes. I have close relatives in Bristol and the tedious drive (a round trip of almost 800 miles that the car and my subconscious mind seem to manage on their own. Almost…) is made more bearable by having a novel to listen to during the journey. Particularly in that nasty bit of the M6 between Manchester and Birmingham.

The CD set is unabridged and the reading is 11½ hours long, therefore lasting for most of the journey there and back. Puzzlingly, the book has had some unfavourable reviews. Could that be because the author addresses climate change in a thoroughly researched manner that disturbs his readers? My humble (perhaps not so humble) opinion is that this novel will become a classic.

Some of you know that I write. But in McEwen I marvel, I can’t even get close. I am gobsmacked (a technical term I learned years ago) that McEwen, a graduate in English Literature, can have such a grasp of physics to have written such a novel. But don’t let the word physics put you off. Solar is GOOD STUFF, as a university friend of mine used to say. It is serious and amusing, and I wish I could write like that. I loved his novel Atonement, and Joe Wright’s film of it (perhaps, one day, if I have the guts to do it, I shall tell you why).

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