Review: Nutshell

Posted 21 April, 2017 by Lianne in Books / 2 Comments

Nutshell
By: Ian McEwan
Format/Source: eBook; my purchase

“Oh God, I could be bounded in a nutshell and count myself king of infinite space—were it not that I have bad dreams.”
Shakespeare: Hamlet

Nutshell is an altogether original story of deceit and murder, told by a narrator with a perspective and voice unlike any in recent literature. Love and betrayal, life and death come together in the most unexpected, moving ways in this sensational new novel from Ian McEwan, which will make readers first gasp with astonishment then laugh with delight. Dazzling, funny and audacious, it is the finest recent work from a true master, beautifully told, brilliantly executed.

I was on a bit of an Ian McEwan roll some time ago; I think I picked up this book around Christmas. It’s a fairly short book and I was in need of a short read so I started reading it.

Nutshell was a fun read but omg was it also pretty ridiculous in a way from the perspective it’s told; our unknown fetal protagonist sounds like a middle-aged man with a hyper-awareness about the outside world despite never having seen anything, and already highlighted by preferences, whether it be a type of wine (and baby loves his wine, lol) or what he hopes to learn more about or, to a baser level, his preference to his father from his uncle. It’s weirdly funny and I can see why Ian McEwan had a kick writing this book; I also couldn’t put it down once I started reading it. There was something to the narrative that really had me glued to the eReader screen.

The book is also totally Hamlet, lol (review). It was an interesting twist to have the story told from the fetus’ perspective, as he’s not only vulenerable but he can also do nothing as he witnesses his mother and uncle commit a crime (again, something our protagonist is especially aware of). It was also interesting to have the story told from his perspective as it raises a lot of themes such as parental relationships and what makes that bond between parent and child, as well as perspectives on life, the chances of building your life, developing interests, being free to discover oneself and the world. So whilst it is a thriller with the “Will they be discovered?” question hanging over the story, it’s quite affirmative in a way about life. And I personally thought the ending, whilst a foregone conclusion, was quite chilling in a way and perfect to wrap up the story.

There’s not much else I can say about this book except that it was another excellent Ian McEwan novel and I’m glad to have picked it up! 🙂

Rating: ★★★★☆

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2 Responses to “Review: Nutshell”

  1. Another review that I spotted somewhere recently suggested that you could see the foetus as Stewie from Family Guy…your comment “sounds like a middle-aged man with a hyper-awareness about the outside world” makes sense with Stewie in mind 🙂

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