Ian McEwan – Nutshell

review, novel

Trudy is pregnant, but currently not living with the child’s father, John, but his uncle, Claude. The house they live in was one Trudy and John’s retreat and now worth millions since housing in London is expensive. Claude is into real estate and comes up with a plan: why not get rid of the unwanted father of the child and make money of the house? A plan is made, but John interferes when he suddenly shows up and asks Trudy to leave the house where he wants to create a new home for himself and his girlfriend Elodie. Quick action is needed and thus Trudy and Claude have to react fast. Just a couple of hours later, they seem to have reached their aim and nobody is there who could blame them. But what they don’t know is that somebody has been listening all the time…
Respect. Ian McEwan really succeeded in surprising me. One of my favourite authors of whom I have read many novels accomplished something I thought risky and did not expect much from: telling a story from an unborn baby’s point of view. But what do we get: a lot of fun with a narrator who is not only a lot cleverer than all the adults presented, but also a close observer and ironic commentator of what he hears and understands. In this special case, getting the story just form one perspective is a great plus since the baby is just hilarious. At points, however, the laughter gets stuck in your throat when, for example, the baby is longing for another glass of wine – something it is highly used to. In this way, McEwan does what we expect him to do: he knows exactly how to put the words so that there is a double meaning and the underlying message can hit you hard.
What I liked best about the novel were first of all the baby’s way of narrating what’s happening. A slightly naïve tone which nevertheless shows a lot on knowledge and understanding. Second, the presentation of the characters who are mainly characterized through their action and even though they are not really the sympathetic type of person and only seen through the baby’s eyes, the develop facets and become more and more complex in their feelings.

All in all, a quick read which connects a lively and lovable narrator with a murder plot.