Book Review: Nutshell – Ian McEwan

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‘So here I am, upside down in a woman. Arm patiently crossed, waiting, waiting and wondering who I’m in, what I’m in for.’

This is honestly one of the strangest, yet intriguing books I’ve ever read. Told from the perspective of a foetus about to be born with the mind of a middle-aged man. If you want the weird and wonderful this is definitely the book for you. In the past I’ve only read McEwans On Chesil Beach for my AS Level, I thought that was incredibly strange until I read Nutshell. That said, I have no doubt that it’s one of the best written I have ever read.  What struck me was how utterly unlikeable all the characters outside the womb were. Truly awful people but that just made it event better to read. You don’t want these people to succeed, you want the foetus to have a better chance at life and keep the

What struck me was how utterly unlikeable all the characters outside the womb were. Truly awful people but that just made it event better to read. You don’t want these people to succeed, you want the foetus to have a better chance at life and keep the intelligence he seems to have. Of course, this is NOT a realistic novel there aren’t babies who can formulate thoughts like this but you’re so absorbed in the story you don’t care.

I’ve been told since reading that this was based on Hamlet, a play I haven’t read. Whether it was or not the way in which the novel is written is incredible. There is a rhythm to it that kind of makes it feel like you’re reading poetry which is never a bad thing. McEwan also makes you think about the world around you with the things that the ‘baby’ hears and considers. It’s hard to explain more than that.

I gave this novel 4 stars, only for the fact that sometimes it can be quite difficult to follow. That said, I couldn’t stop reading and had it out at every opportunity I could. I would definitely recommend this to anyone with a curious mind or who is up for something new to read. I’ll definitely be picking up more of his novels too!

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