Into the labyrinth
I was left triumphally shouting `YES’ at the finish of this gorgeous and playful weaving of the personal and the 1970’s political, and the centre stage placing of the art of narrative fiction itself.
In Saturday, McEwan was sombre, dark, reflective and brilliant, ultimately presenting literature with the power to redeem.
Here, with a novel set in the shadowy reaches of MI5 in the early 70’s, Heath, the miners, spiralling oil prices, the Cold War – and the emergence of 70’s feminism – his central character is a young mathematics student at Cambridge, with a love of literature, and of men.
Educated by an older lover into a greater degree of external sophistication than she otherwise would have, she enters the Civil Service at a lowly grade. These are not spoilers, so much is explained by the book’s publicity material. More I won’t really say about the plot – its clearly about the Secret Service, about the 70s, has a female protagonist and the art and craft of narrative writing itself is at the heart. So expect issues of trust, duplicity and honesty, masks and roles, the battleground and fields of peace between the sexes, and these issues of truth and duplicity explored as part of the relationship between literature and life. All to be woven – brilliantly – into the mix.