Innocent
Ian McEwan

Book cover image

Narrated By: Steven Pacey

Duration: 7 hours and 55 minutes

What to expect

The setting is Berlin. Into this divided city, wrenched between East and West, between past and present; comes twenty-five-year-old Leonard Marnham, assigned to a British-American surveillance team. Though only a pawn in an international plot that is never fully revealed to him, Leonard uses his secret work to escape the bonds of his ordinary life - and to lose his unwanted innocence. The promise of his new life begins to be fulfilled as Leonard becomes a crucial part of the surveillance team, while simultaneously being initiated into a new world of love and sex by Maria, a beautiful young German woman. It is a promise that turns to horror in the course of one terrible evening - a night when Leonard Marnham learns just how much of his innocence he's willing to shed.

Genre

Modern & contemporary fiction, Espionage & spy thriller, Historical fiction, Psychological thriller, Narrative theme: Coming of age, Narrative theme: Love & relationships, Narrative theme: Politics

Listen to a sample

Generous in scale, simple in its hideous impact...Ironically, he has celebrated the obsequies of the East-West spy thriller by writing one of the subtlest

Mail on Sunday

To call The Innocent a spy novel would be like calling Lord of the Flies a boy's adventure yarn...it ensure McEwan's major status

Sunday Times

It's the most tightly plotted of Ian McEwan's novels, and to argue properly for its excellence would involve showing how the political and emotional themes are inseparable from its narrative ingenuity, the patterns of revelation and about-turn which mark its final pages

Guardian

The sheer cleverness of the book is dazzling, and only fully to be appreciated as you turn the last page: but then cleverness is a real virtue here, the best guide possible to the questionable territory between innocence and whatever comes after

London Review of Books

The plot crackles like thin ice with dread and suspense