Sunday, January 01, 2017
Nutshell by Ian McEwan
Even though we have basically sworn off getting books for each other, this book was a very welcome Christmas gift from David. I have been a relatively big fan of Ian McEwan since I read Atonement back in 2004. Nutshell borrows heavily from Hamlet, a play I taught so many times I guarantee I caught all of the subtle nods. As for the not-so-subtle stuff - the main character named not Gertrude but Trudy, and her lover, her husband's brother Claude, not Claudius - it was pretty contrived. But nothing was as contrived as the narrator, the unborn fetus who "sees" the whole drama unfold. His mother is having an affair with his father's brother and this fetus is able to describe every sexual encounter between the two like he is there - because he is. He even describes it as he feels it from the womb. Couldn't teach this book - no siree! Because Trudy and Claude want to be left alone, there is plotting, there is intrigue, there is murder (wouldn't you guess).
It is a slim novel. McEwan's language is lovely. But the only character who I even wanted to like wasn't even born yet. I read almost the whole book on New Year's Day with a large glass of left over Champagne by the fire, so that part was delightful. But the book isn't one I will be passing to all my friends anytime soon.