Sweet Tooth by Ian McEwan
A Novel

63%

44 Critic Reviews

The spy conceit of "Sweet Tooth" proves disappointingly thin. McEwan makes a halfhearted attempt at '70s espionage intrigue...but the drama is much ado about nothing of great interest.
-LA Times

Synopsis

A cultural history of candy-how it evolved from medicine and a luxury to today's Kit Kat bars and M&M's

Told through the Kate Hopkins' travels in Europe and the U.S., Sweet Tooth is a first-hand account of her obsession with candy and a detailed look at its history and development. The sugary treats we enjoy today have a prominent past entertaining kings, curing the ill, and later developing into a billion-dollar industry. The dark side of this history is that the confectionery industry has helped create an environment of unhealthy overindulgence, has quelled any small business competition that was deemed to be a risk to any large company's bottom line, and was largely responsible for the slave trade that evolved during the era of colonization.

Candy's history is vast and complex and plays a distinct part in the growth of the Western world. Thanks to the ubiquity of these treats which allows us to take them for granted, that history has been hidden or forgotten. Until now. Filled with Hopkins' trademark humor and accompanied by her Candy Grab Bag tasting notes, Sweet Tooth is a must-read for everybody who considers themselves a candy freak.

 

About Ian McEwan

See more books from this Author
IAN McEWAN is the bestselling author of fourteen books, including the novels Solar; On Chesil Beach; Saturday; Atonement, winner of the National Book Critics Circle Award and the W. H. Smith Literary Award; The Comfort of Strangers and Black Dogs, both shortlisted for the Booker Prize; Amsterdam, winner of the Booker Prize; and The Child in Time, winner of the Whitbread Award; as well as the story collections First Love, Last Rites, winner of the Somerset Maugham Award, and In Between the Sheets. He lives in England. www.ianmcewan.com
 
Published May 22, 2012 by St. Martin's Press. 321 pages
Genres: History, Mystery, Thriller & Suspense, Literature & Fiction, Romance, Cooking, Horror. Fiction
Bestseller Status:
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Peak Rank on Dec 02 2012
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Weeks as Bestseller
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Critic reviews for Sweet Tooth
All: 44 | Positive: 24 | Negative: 20

Kirkus

Excellent
on Aug 02 2012

A subtly and sweetly subversive novel which seems more characteristic of its author as it becomes increasingly multilayered and labyrinthine in its masterful manipulation of the relationship(s) between fiction and truth.

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NY Times

Below average
Reviewed by KURT ANDERSEN on Nov 21 2012

“Sweet Tooth” is sort of a younger sibling to “Atonement,” less epic and grave, with lower stakes...

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NY Times

Below average
Reviewed by Michiko Kakutani on Nov 04 2012

...a clever but annoying novel that lacks both the deeply felt emotion of this author’s dazzling 2001 masterpiece, “Atonement,” and the chilling exactitude of his 1998 Booker Prize-winning thriller, “Amsterdam.”

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Guardian

Good
Reviewed by John Mullan on Jun 28 2013

The reader who has been gripped by Sweet Tooth has, by definition, already decided that being expertly manipulated by the novelist is a reader's privilege.

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Guardian

Good
Reviewed by Justin Cartwright on Jun 01 2013

McEwan pulls off two extraordinary surprises near the end, one which may remind you of Briony's postscript in Atonement. The other concerns the disappearance of her lover, the Cambridge don. Tricksy, but satisfying.

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Guardian

Good
Reviewed by James Lasdun on Aug 23 2012

Given McEwan's ability to make riveting fiction out of English politics (not easy), it would be hard to imagine anyone better equipped to write such a story.

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Guardian

Good
Reviewed by Justin Cartwright on Jun 01 2013

McEwan pulls off two extraordinary surprises near the end, one which may remind you of Briony's postscript in Atonement. The other concerns the disappearance of her lover, the Cambridge don. Tricksy, but satisfying.

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Guardian

Good
Reviewed by Julie Myerson on Sep 01 2012

Sweet Tooth is a comic novel and a novel of ideas, but, unlike so many of those, it also exerts a keen emotional pull.

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Guardian

Below average
Reviewed by James Lasdun on Aug 23 2012

What about the PLO? The cold war? Civilisation and barbarity? You promised!

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Publishers Weekly

Below average
on Aug 13 2012

Given the nonstop wisecracks, the book might be most satisfying if read as sheer camp...McEwan devotees may hope that in his next novel he returns to characterizations deeper than the paper they’re printed on.

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WSJ online

Above average
Reviewed by Sam Sacks on Nov 12 2012

The book is soon overwhelmed by its own narrative ruse, which, revealed in the final pages, is clever but not meaningful.

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WSJ online

Below average
Reviewed by Aram Bakshian Jr on May 25 2012

Many readers who enjoyed Kate Hopkins's high-spirited romp through the world of drinking and distilling, "99 Drams of Whiskey"...may be disappointed...

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NPR

Good
Reviewed by Heller McAlpin on Nov 13 2012

Ian McEwan's 15th book of fiction, Sweet Tooth, is a Tootsie Roll Pop of a literary confection — hard-boiled candy enrobing a chewy surprise at its core.

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NPR

Below average
Reviewed by Maureen Corrigan on Nov 12 2012

By the time I got to McEwan's last sneer of a plot twist, I felt that reading Sweet Tooth is the closest I ever want to come to the experience of watching a snuff film.

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NPR

Excellent
Oct 31 2012

Ian McEwan's latest novel is an exercise in deception — the author of Atonement has created an engaging book that's as much suspenseful drama as it is romantic love story.

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Examiner

Excellent
Reviewed by Amy Goodfellow Wagner on Jan 01 2013

Forget about literary munchies. You can satisfy your cravings for a suspenseful love story filled with heart and soul with “Sweet Tooth.”

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Financial Times

Excellent
Reviewed by Lucy Kellaway on Aug 17 2012

The novel’s structure is very impressive, with layer upon layer of writers and spies, past and present, and stories inside stories.

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NY Journal of Books

Excellent
Reviewed by Ariel Balter on Nov 13 2012

Sweet Tooth is wonderfully misleading, absolutely delectable, and very smart. And it is still a love story.

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Star Tribune

Excellent
Reviewed by ROBERT CREMINS on Nov 10 2012

What follows...is a story set in a bitter climate, but one told with such poise and craft that the novel is, one has to say, ultimately a sweet read.

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Globe and Mail

Excellent
Reviewed by J.C. Sutcliffe on Aug 31 2012

McEwan fans won’t be disappointed by Sweet Tooth, and newcomers to the author will be meeting him at the top of his game.

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The Economist

Below average
Sep 01 2012

For all the attendant publicity, “Sweet Tooth” is not Mr McEwan’s finest book. It has neither the darkness of “The Comfort of Strangers” nor the passion of “Enduring Love”

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AV Club

Above average
Reviewed by Kevin McFarland on Dec 24 2012

McEwan hasn’t lost his gift for ending on a high note, but unlike in Atonement, the ordinary details aren’t imbued with enough convincing drama to earn such a breathtaking finish.

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National Post arts

Good
Reviewed by Benjamin Errett on Aug 31 2012

These spies wouldn’t be disappointed by Sweet Tooth. Though the literary angles make better book review fodder, there’s plenty of sex, bloodshed, terrorism, backstabbing and Champagne here, too.

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Entertainment Weekly

Below average
Reviewed by Rob Brunner on Nov 02 2012

Anyone looking for John le Carré-style intrigue will be disappointed.

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LA Times

Below average
Reviewed by Janelle Brown on Nov 23 2012

The spy conceit of "Sweet Tooth" proves disappointingly thin. McEwan makes a halfhearted attempt at '70s espionage intrigue...but the drama is much ado about nothing of great interest.

Read Full Review of Sweet Tooth: A Novel | See more reviews from LA Times

The Independent

Excellent
Reviewed by Amanda Craig on Aug 26 2012

Sweet Tooth, as expected, is a well-crafted pleasure to read, its smooth prose and slippery intelligence sliding down like cream.

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The Telegraph

Below average
Reviewed by Catherine Taylor on Aug 28 2012

Disappointingly, McEwan’s customary “wilful narrative sadism” is largely missing from Sweet Tooth.

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USA Today

Above average
Reviewed by David Daley on Nov 15 2012

...Sweet Tooth is so tightly wound and so precise, the open questions dangle so tantalizingly, that the inevitable turns seem a little too self-evident.

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Express

Good
Reviewed by Ion Trewin on Aug 26 2012

It had me turning back to the novel’s beginning. Had McEwan, through Serena’s benefit of hindsight in narrating her life, planted the clues? Let every reader have the pleasure of finding out.

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Denver Post

Below average
Reviewed by John Broening on Nov 11 2012

...Shostakovich was one of the most fascinating figures in this cultural battle...His story would have made for a more engaging novel than the well-researched but inert piece of work McEwan has given us.

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Slate

Excellent
Reviewed by Katie Roiphe on Nov 07 2012

This is a book you can think about for a long time, a book that lingers and disturbs, in a good way.

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About.com

Good
Reviewed by Jeff Alford on Sep 15 2013

Eventually it is reduced to a novel about whether a person can be loved for who they really are. It's perfectly McEwan-esque, but oddly obvious for a book built on so many secrets.

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The Columbus Dispatch

Above average
Reviewed by Margaret Quamme on Nov 25 2012

It’s Serena’s story, to be sure, but it also twists into something different, with results that will please some readers and annoy others.

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The Sydney Morning Herald

Excellent
Reviewed by Owen Richardson on Sep 29 2012

A novel set in the world usually explored by thrillers would have to have a very good reason not to offer entertainment, and Sweet Tooth does more than enough of that.

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Look At OKC

Above average
Reviewed by Kay Dyer on Dec 16 2012

The story threatens to bog down a bit midway in Serena's love affairs. But McEwan's fine writing style carries you through to some surprises.

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Historical Novel Society

Excellent
Reviewed by Doug Kemp on Nov 01 2012

There is a neat and unexpected twist at the end that challenges the reader’s perspective on the foregoing narrative. An excellent book.

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DNA

Below average
Reviewed by Aditya Sinha on Sep 23 2012

Disappointing is the only word for Ian McEwan’s latest, Sweet Tooth. That’s how his novels have been lately: well-crafted, well-planned, but a waste of time.

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Business Week

Below average
Reviewed by Hephzibah Anderson on Aug 19 2012

As its sly plot tells it, books not only promote empathy, they can even alter the course of a love story. If only this one didn’t leave quite such a sugary aftertaste.

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New Statesman

Below average
Reviewed by Leo Robson on Aug 23 2012

McEwan’s latest novel is a riddle, or perhaps a joke, in which a number of baffling, even boring, elements are clarified and justified by a final flourish. It rewards rereading, but not reading.

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New Zealand Listener

Below average
Reviewed by Guy Somerset on Sep 15 2012

...if the novel is intended as a corrective, it would be more convincing if it didn’t smack – like Solar before it – of a career novelist going through the motions...Sweet Tooth? A cavity in need of filling.

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IBN Live

Excellent
Reviewed by Vivek Tejuja on Sep 04 2012

Sweet Tooth is a cleverly written book, with imaginative prose and a great twist at the end. A must read...you sure will not be disappointed.

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Metro

Below average
Reviewed by Claire Allfree on Aug 22 2012

The novel steadily narrows to the point of its own artifice and the aftertaste is hollow rather than sweet.

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National Post arts

Good
Reviewed by Benjamin Errett on Aug 31 2012

Though the literary angles make better book review fodder, there’s plenty of sex, bloodshed, terrorism, backstabbing and Champagne here, too.

Read Full Review of Sweet Tooth: A Novel | See more reviews from National Post arts

Readings

Good
Reviewed by Imogen Dewey on Aug 09 2012

McEwan writes the timeless dramas of his relationships with an eye to the world and this is no exception. An interesting take on the spy novel – understated yet compelling, and a fantastic read.

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Reader Rating for Sweet Tooth
64%

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Alireza Rahnema 5 Sep 2013

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