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Summary

Nutshell is a classic story of murder and deceit, told by a narrator with a perspective and voice unlike any in recent literature. A bravura performance, it is the finest recent work from a true master.

To be bound in a nutshell, see the world in two inches of ivory, in a grain of sand. Why not, when all of literature, all of art, of human endeavour, is just a speck in the universe of possible things?

©2016 Ian McEwan (P)2016 Random House Audiobooks

What members say

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    5 out of 5 stars
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Hamlet From The Womb

Only Ian McEwan . . . Hamlet from within the womb. It’s just so incongruent that it’s likely it simply won’t work for some readers. However if you can make the not insignificant mental leap of believing in an unborn baby with more sophistication than most of us ever manage (certainly me!) then the sheer quality of the writing carries the day. McEwan is an intelligent and observant writer who includes a lot of commentary about the human condition. His prose is extremely eloquent and the Shakespeare allusions don’t end with Hamlet. Hints of Macbeth raise their ghostly heads too.

The narration by Rory Kinnear is extremely well suited to the book and he delivers both the criminality and the not inconsiderable humour with aplomb. The story itself is actually a relatively simple one that's as old as the hills themselves. It's the unique point of view that sets it apart.

All this taken together makes this admittedly brief novel a satisfyingly original take on an old subject. If you value originality and quality writing then it’s well worth a go, just be prepared for the leap of faith that’s required from the very start.

23 of 28 people found this review helpful

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Superb - suggested by Book Group

I would never have chosen to read this but amazing! Addictive listening. I couldn't switch it off. 😊

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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Perspective is everything. Excellent!

A riveting suspense, full of intrigue and enough realism and mystery to stop you switching off. A twist on a murder mystery that would make Agatha Christie proud. A story brought to life and read brilliantly.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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  • Philip
  • Burford, United Kingdom
  • 14-01-17

He's a proper writer, gov'nor

Not a whodunnit, as you know who's going to do it from the start. The premise sounds silly and annoying, with the story told by the unborn child of the plotting-murderess. But, my goodness, he can write, and what a contrast to the last two I've read (Grisham and Horowitz, great storytellers but...) every word and sentence counts and is a literary masterpiece. But still edge of the seat stuff. On the highly recommended list. Ending leaves you hanging, but to be expected due to the expecting, I guess.

7 of 9 people found this review helpful

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A demonstration of literary skill

I can't pretend this was enjoyable although skilfully written. No sympathetic characters and the very odd framework of the highly talkative foetus eventually produces an obvious conclusion. At least it was well read and fairly short.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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Nutshell

Absolutely fabulous, fantastic story well told by Rory Kinnear. It is amazingly gripping throughout the whole tale.

3 of 4 people found this review helpful

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Superb Writing Good Story

A great idea brilliantly realised. Story telling and pace were perfect and the unusual narrator a stroke of genius.
Very well read too.

5 of 7 people found this review helpful

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One of his best.

One of his best. My favourite living author. Lived up to all expectations. Utterly compelling. Brilliant writing as always.

8 of 12 people found this review helpful

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it’s always now, always here, never then and there

Ian McEwan

This is an amazing book of the here and now, a snapshot of our present; a tragedy of Shakespearian proportions, a global ringing of bells and sirens of a world drowning in contradictions, of civilizations cultures and religions in full metamorphosys. Will it be a stillbirth? Or will the innocent pay for the crimes of the cognisant?

Human life commenting on humanity and all the demented happenings of today; I wonder if it is too contemporary to survive the future but perhaps it is us or I who will not survive the consequences of the here mentioned and this little Hamlet will continue to “suffer the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune” questioning our humanity and our weaknesses and for ever floating into new minds to pose old questions.

A book that needs many reads and much consideration, no word is wasted, no one is safe and all is exposed with incisive commentary and dialog.

The gestation of thought and ideas in a nutshell.

15 of 23 people found this review helpful

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An intellectual triumph

Any additional comments?

I haven't liked all of McEwan's books and I approached this one warily because I was fearful that the fetus narrator was an attention seeking device. From the very first sentence, I was enthralled. This book is unique, intellectually wide-ranging in its allusions and hilarious! I know my Hamlet but I am not a specialist nor am I a Shakespearean fanatic but the way that McEwan plays with the language and themes of the play is nothing short of triumphant. I am finding it difficult to come up with a variety of superlatives so I'll just say 'Download this book today.' The only thing that equals this gem of a novel is Rory Kinnear's superb narration. No, he doesn't narrate this text; he brings it to life.

9 of 14 people found this review helpful

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  • Benjamin Myers
  • 28-10-16

Hilarious, thrilling story

What a blast! A terrifically funny and thrilling murder story, told by an unforgettable narrator. One of the most entertaining books I've read in quite some time: this is Ian McEwan at his mischievous, exuberant best.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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  • cate edwards
  • 27-10-16

i wanted more

beautifully crafted, creative, insightful - i wanted more . I will listen to it again.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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  • JohnyCash
  • 11-03-17

Best Ian's book

One of best book i ever read. It shall be awarded by a Nobel prize

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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  • Anniebligh
  • 03-12-16

"a lucky beach"

Bless me! Here is Rory Kinnear reading Ian McEwan

I have only enjoyed language as much as I have this, with my first reading of Virginia Wolf.

We read or listen for all sorts of reasons. I am 'catching up' on all those decades when I had to get up for work in the morning. Taste does change and still some books can only be read in hard copy to be slowly enjoyed like Nabakov and. I had begun to think like Virginia Wolf. And Ian McEwan.
My choice of genre ranges far and wide and at times takes huge leaps of hope in choosing an audiobook.
Here we have Ian McEwan being read on audio by Rory Kinnear
Delight.

I will have to find a hard copy though to learn if Ian M wanted a 'bow' to mean a pretty knot or a masculine curtsy. Such (maybe small) things pull up my blissful enjoyment of both story and words being read with so easy a voice.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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  • A. Brenninkmeijer
  • 04-08-17

Great performance, reader and author well matched.

My wife and I listened in the car during a long drive. We both loved it. Very erudite. Highly recommended especially if you like wine tasting. The nutshell perspective works brilliantly.

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  • Philip
  • 30-04-17

Riveting perspective on the plotting of a murder!

Having a fully conscious as-yet-unborn baby provide the first person perspective on the plotting of a murder, is absolutely unique. Definitely my book recommendation for this month!

Both the writer and the narrator have done a great job.