In the High Peaks

Friday, February 7, 2014

3 Books Read: Sweet Tooth by Ian McEwan and Zealot Final Words

Ian McEwan is one of my favorite authors because his books draw me deep, deep down into the souls of his protagonists. His books force me to think deeply about the entanglements of interpersonal relationships as well as the nitty-gritty of societal forces that infiltrate our lives and often make us act in ways we wish we wouldn't. Sweet Tooth is an exquisite example of these themes in McEwan's work. The really hard part is that Serena, the main character, is so young and inexperienced as she makes decisions that will mark her and others for life.

At the end of the book she is a mere twenty-three years of age, a woman who's been thoroughly on her own for several years, a fully-fledged adult supposedly, working for MI5 in Britain. But Serena has one huge flaw that mars her life: She doesn't seem to be able to stand up for herself when it's essential to do so for her personal integrity and self-respect. And note! McEwan doesn't treat her as a naïf. He treats this character as she sees herself--as an adult who is in command of her situation.

I highly recommend this novel--it's so full of twists and turns, so imaginative, so original, and well worth the time and effort. It will hold you in its grip until the last page.

Now a news alert! I finally finished Ivanhoe today and I felt satisfied with the ending, though I will have more to say on the matter when Katrina of Pining for the West has finished the novel.

Yesterday I finished reading Zealot: The Life and Times of Jesus of Nazareth. I was fascinated by this book, and by the author's notes that detail his sources supporting each chapter. He's to be commended for making the book so readable and clear despite the many conflicting and confusing elements that can make the history of the first century in Judea and Palestine nearly impossible to unravel. I understand much more clearly the historical origins and lives of Jesus and James, his brother so much more, as well as the contradicting power of Paul who re-interpreted Jesus's message and transferred and translated Christianity to Rome, away from its Jewish roots. I'm sure many might find the conclusions of the author to be blasphemy, but it's clear that, from a historical perspective, Christianity developed to a large extent because of the faithful who never knew Jesus when he was alive. Highly recommended!


  1. Judith, I love your new banner pic! Congratulations on finishing Ivanhoe. I have read one Ian McEwan and loved it too. I'll see if my library has this one. I'm curious if you have read the Bible too. The whole of the Old Testament is pointing the Jews to a coming messiah who would save them and the New Testament is that Messiah or King as the Jews called him. But they were looking for an earthly king who would save them from the difficulties of life now and rejected Christ as their savior. They were thinking temporal salvation not eternal. His own people rejected him and God opened the Gospel to the Gentile and they understood and embraced Christ as an eternal savior. Paul was the disciple charged with taking the Good News to the Jewish people and Peter to the Gentile.

    1. I have read large portions of the Bible, primarily when I took a Bible course in college, which was taught by the college's minister and was absolutely fascinating. I think it fascinated me because it was taught from historical, archeological, and sociological perspectives, which made it very relevant to me at that time.
      In my words about Zealot, I am merely reporting what the author discussed in this book.
      Thanks! Judith