Friday, March 12, 2010


Light. I’m rarely willing to read three hundred pages of a novel featuring a protagonist that I dislike. Usually, I’ll give up after a few dozen pages and read something else. Ian McEwan’s fine writing in Solar kept me reading, and by the end I found the novel fully satisfying. After protagonist Michael Beard won a Nobel prize in physics, his work had begun to coast in a detached way for years, as he has become an eminence grise garnering speaking fees and figurehead roles. Always an unfaithful partner in his personal life, his fifth marriage is on the verge of failure; this time his wife is also unfaithful. He’s become overweight and drinks to excess. The time periods in the novel are 2000, 2005 and 2009, so we see the consistencies and changes in Beard during these times. Quantum physics plays a part in Solar, and it is light itself that becomes a motif. I laughed hilariously at Michael on a skidoo in the bitter cold in one scene, and couldn’t wait for Beard’s deceptions to be revealed. Each of us knows a Michael Beard of one sort or another, and reading Solar brings to life a character with whom we would gladly spend our lives avoiding.

Rating: Four-star (Highly Recommended)
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