Features the author in converstation with his editor, Dan Franklin.
Michael Beard is a Nobel prize-winning physicist whose best work is behind him. Trading on his reputation, he speaks for enormous fees, lends his name to the letterheads of renowned scientific institutions and half-heartedly heads a government-backed initiative tackling global warming.
A compulsive womaniser, Beard finds his fifth marriage floundering. But this time it is different: she is having the affair, and he is still in love with her.When Beard's professional and personal worlds collide in a freak accident, an opportunity presents itself for him to extricate himself from his marital mess, reinvigorate his career, and save the world from environmental disaster.
Ranging from the Arctic Circle to the deserts of New Mexico, Solar is a serious and darkly satirical novel, showing human frailty struggling with the most pressing and complex problem of our time. A story of one man's greed and self-deception, it is a profound and stylish new work from one of the world's great writers.
©2010 Ian McEwan (P)2010 Random House Audiobooks
'[A] novel that promises comedy as well as crisis.' (The Guardian)
"McEwan's pure, direct prose always lends itself well to audio... Roger Allam's studiously straight-faced reading sets the perfect tone for this subtle satire". (The Times)
I am ashamed to say that I really enjoyed the main character, Michael Beard, captured with flair and depth by the narrator. This book ticked all the boxes for me - humour, science, womanising, supreme confidence, thoughtfulness and eventual comeuppance (regretfully). Buy it and enjoy - I will now read it for myself. The interview at the end with the magnificent Ian McEwan is an added bonus.
"Man made global warming"
Like a coordinated air strike, Ian McEwan tries to reach many different targets in his new novel. As the interview with the writer included with the audio-book reveals, solar was going to be from the very beginning a novel about global warming. However although McEwan is a known proselytizer in this area, the characters in the novel are equivocal, until self interest and nothing more causes them to change sides. The central character of the book is a Nobel prize winning physicist who is trading on his former reputation both in the lecture room and in his personal life, and it is in the latter area in which he has problems as the book opens with his latest wife conducting her own extra marital experiments. The cleverly constructed story includes a great amount of accurate detail about contemporary physics as well as borrowing elements used in thrillers. The plot is an international as a James Bond novel, moving from suburban home county intrigues, a polar expedition, a South American experimental site and a North American trailer park. The more enjoyable sections would be the unintentional consequences of being caught short in sub zero temperatures, and a naive comment about gender predispositions leading to vilification in all sections of the press.
Roger Allam is a perfect choice for a reader of this novel. He portrays the worldly, self interested central character extremely well and his voice is well suited to McEwans slightly misanthropic and detached narrative.
"Roald Dahl meets Martin Amis"
I've enjoyed all of the Ian McEwan books I have listened to and this is one of the best. He combines really clever writing with a liking for macabre plot twists and dark humour. There are some excellent set-pieces in the novel, my favourites being his descriptions of a nasty accident on a snow-mobile and of a stand-off over a packet of salt and vinegar crisps. The narrator did an excellent job. It is hard to find fault with this book if you are a fan.
An amusing black comedy, a parable of modern consumer society and an exposition of global warming. I was surprised to enjoy my time spent with such an unpleasant main protagonist but the irony and sarcasm are perfectly British and the plot twist around a third of the way through led the story down a compelling path. I started out with some tredipation that it was going to preach but although McEwan gets the point across he leaves the humour to do the work amidst some brilliant writing and excellent narration.
This is my first McEwan book but will not be my last. It has some genuine laugh-out-loud moments framed within a great story. The author knows his art and he weaves an elegant plot around environmental issues without at any time preaching or making one feel guilty for taking up space on the planet. This is not a lecture on the controversial subject, but uses its weight only as a backdrop to the main character's at times unethical, criminal and hilariously funny conduct. Highly recommended as a well-narrated, slightly unsettling but entirely enjoyable book.
"A review of Solar by Ian McEwan"
This is hilarious in a modern satirical way, which suits the deep voice of the dead pan narrator. The serious message on green issues is given good airing and the facts and figures appear well researched, providing another great hook. The bumbling ageing farcical main character reminds me of Martin Amis' John Self in either Money or London Fields. A whole range of modern day processes are sent up, from commuting to academia. Works very well as an audio book.
"One of his best !"
I have read all Ian McEwan's books since first reading First Love, Last Rites and always look forward to a new publication. Solar is excellent. The main character Michael Beard is a self centred, foolish man who has managed to persuade the scientific world that he is an innovator but is revealed as a charlatan. He has deceived all his five wives and his current wife openly loathes him.
The humour is very ironic, almost black comedy and the denouement where he finally gets his come-uppance is achieved with the deft touch typical of Ian McEwan.
The narration by Roger Allam is perfectly matched to this gripping novel, very skilful and convincing.
Brilliant ! I shall listen to this book again.
fine literature may not be equated with superficial, cultural sunbathing. the main character, a nobel laureate who is very human and a real schmuck: after all, we do live in anti-hero times. enjoyable in parts, as a sunbaked comedy. in other areas however, the plot turns into cracked pottery, for taking itself too seriously. a good read, with some chuckles, but far from being outstanding. OOOH, I hate to see good opps. wasted. nevertheless the narrator deserves our undivided reverence for his superb work.
My reaction to Ian McEwan's books has been a bit mixed. When I was younger, I really loved them, but as I've read more, I've found them less gripping than I did. This one however, was quite different from some of his others. It's funny, although also slightly cringe-inducing at times. It's generally a good listen, and I'd rate it amongst his better books.
I have a feeling that I was meant to dislike the main character of the book, but like other reviewers, I sort of like the guy and understood the way he thinks.The book has lots of twists and turns as it progresses. It is obviously about Solar and the Nobel Prize winning main character, but it is also so much more. A story of life, regrets, family, science, comedy...it has it all really and well worth the read.
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