Serena Frome (rhymes with plume) is a spy. Well, actually she’s a glorified secretary who works for the British intelligence agency MI5 during the height of the Cold War in the early 1970s. Serena, the daughter of an Anglican Bishop who didn’t force his religion on the family, is assigned to operation Sweet Tooth, a top secret project to recruit and pay writers who will produce novels with an anti-Communist bent.
Serena, who is posing as the employee of an arts foundation, is detailed to recruit Tom Haley, a college professor and aspiring young novelist. When a stunningly beautiful girl walks into his office and offers him a fellowship, Haley is smitten. Soon, Serena and Haley are lovers. Sleeping with the target exceeds Serena’s orders from headquarters. She loves Tom and wants to tell him the truth but how can she blow her cover?
This is the first work which I have ever read by the prolific and popular Ian McEwan. Sweet Tooth is an intelligent novel which has as much to do with the seduction of the reader by literature as it does with spies and Cold War intrigue. Sweet Tooth is a beautiful novel with a great ending. Highly recommended.