Cover Illustrator : Leonardo da Vinci, Suzanne Dean
Setting: 2010s, London
So here I am, upside down in a woman.
–Ian McEwan - Nutshell - c2016
Trudy has betrayed her husband, John. She’s still in the marital home – a dilapidated, priceless London townhouse – but not with John. Instead, she’s with his brother, the profoundly banal Claude, and the two of them have a plan. But there is a witness to their plot: the inquisitive, nine-month-old resident of Trudy’s womb.
Told from a perspective unlike any other, Nutshell is a classic tale of murder and deceit from one of the world’s master storytellers.
But I found it quite an irritating read to be honest. The narrator, the baby in the womb, was just so erudite and knew so much about the world at large that I was constantly wondering where he got his information from. Yes, yes he listens to innumerable podcasts about so many different topics, but still. That irritated me.
Also the whole murder plot was so stupid and ridiculous. The characters were irritating and the whole book felt like a clever short story that had been stretched out too far.
I guess you could say that this book did very little for me.
Some of the writing is quite wonderful, but for me personally as a reader, clever writing only gets you so far. I want characters and plot. This had a plot, Hamlet in the womb, but it was half-arsed. It had characters, but they were thinly drawn, after all our narrator could only reveal what he overheard. Or what he imagined, and those imaginings were really really annoying to me, why do I care what an annoying character makes up? It felt like the author was trying to broaden the viewpoint of his foetus while still having him inside the womb. Did not work for me.