Sunday, 27 June 2010

Solar by Ian McEwan

Right Choice - Wrong Reason
Reviewed by TheMole(Gerry)

Sometimes there are books you wished you had never picked up - but not for the obvious reasons. This was such a book. Having arrived at the end of my current 'reading for review' pile but awaiting another book due to arrive imminently I tried to go without a book for a few days but I was advised to look at the unread pile. Reluctantly I took myself to the pile and scanned through. I was looking for a book that had a boring cover. Having eliminated some I then went through and looked for a boring synopsis and found this book. I won this book in an online competition and it is not the one I entered for but it came with the book I wanted. I would start it, find it put downable and move on to the next book when it arrived.

All too frequently I find the synopsis is not what the book is really about and here, yet again I found it. "Solar is a serious and darkly satirical novel". Not the copy I read!

Professor Beard is a Nobel prize winner as a theoretical physicist extending Einsteinian theory. The problem is he is starting to believe he is a spent force. He is also seriously overweight and constantly having affairs with women. He about at the end of his fifth marriage his life is rapidly becoming more and more farcical. I use the word 'farcical' deliberately because I did not read a serious novel, nor was it darkly satirical for me. It is written with humour - not one liners and not rib cracking funny but it did bring a smile to my face on MANY occasions. We follow Beard through an important time in his life and review his past and his loves.

It reads like a biography and although it does have a 'plot', the plot doesn't dominate the book no more than a biography. We only read a biography to read the 'plot' behind the success that made the publisher interested in printing it and in the case of Solar that is also sort of the plot.

Read this book and see all the strands of Beards life come together at the end with some twists and turns that came as surprises and to a conclusion that I hadn't expected but I did enjoy the ending.

TheMole's review - 3.5 stars
Publisher - Random House
Genre - General and literary fiction

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