Ian McEwan                     

Reviewed by Heather O’Connorbook

I think I have mentioned before how excited I get when my favourite authors bring out a new book: here we go again! Ian McEwan has surpassed himself this time: the novel is short (200 pages) and can easily be read in one sitting—which I did. The narrator is his youngest ever—in fact, a third-term foetus. He’s described as a modern day Hamlet, who lies helpless in his mother’s womb, listening to her plot to kill her husband, the father of the foetus.

The co-plotter is her brother-in-law, a truly horrible character and the direct opposite of his sensitive brother (although there is a twist there too). The conspirators drink copious amounts of wine and enjoy a vigorous sex life, both of which impact directly on our foetus, whose philosophising about the state of the world is worth reading as a stand-alone commentary (see, especially, pages 25-27).

This book is a gem—so may well McEwan live another ten years and continue to produce such fascinating work. He has promised not to write about golf, income tax or the VAT. Other than that, his imagination shows no signs of diminishing. McEwan really is the grand old man among novel writers, and Nutshell is amongst his best.