Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Book Review: The Comfort of Strangers by Ian McEwan

The Comfort of Strangers by Ian McEwan
Release Date: 1981
Age Group: Adult
Publisher: Jonathan Cape
Length: 144 pages

As their holiday unfolds, Colin and Maria are locked into their own intimacy. They groom themselves meticulously, as though someone is waiting for them who cares deeply about how they appear. When they meet a man with a disturbing story to tell, they become drawn into a fantasy of violence and obsession. (from goodreads)
I'd never read Ian McEwan before picking up this book. I never really felt the need to, despite the fact that I kept seeing him popping up in all kinds of discussions. And then he showed up on the list of 1,001 books to read before you die and I heard about this book in a podcast discussing the best short books, so I decided to go for it.

This book is creepy. And I knew that something terrifying was going to happen because of the summary, which almost made it worse. The entire book I found myself saying, "Okay, what's going to happen? What's that guy going to do? Oh my god, is this the creepy part?"

The suspense made this book impossible to put down, but it was only because I knew something bad was going to happen that I kept reading. The first half of the book dragged along, and it seemed like nothing was really happening for a good bit of the book. But I absolutely couldn't stop reading because I had to know the ending--the combination was strange and a little unsettling.

The very end was a little bit anticlimactic. That is to say, the build-up after the halfway point was amazing and I was so hyped up about what was going to happen that when the ending finally came, I almost missed it entirely. I had to read the last few pages a couple of times in order to fully understand what had happened, which was annoying.

Overall, this was a good psychologically thrilling book--for the second half. Fans of a slow build-up would probably enjoy it, but even with the slow beginning I found myself liking the book. If anyone's read it, I'd love to know what you thought, because I still have mixed feelings.


  1. Stopping by from the hop. :)

    Let's do the Hop!

    My Hop is here.


  2. Hopping on in to say hello and to invite you to come over to my blog! I've just become a new follower and would love it if you could follow mine, also!


  3. hi anna! i'm a new follower via the hop. great blog! i look forward to reading more of your reviews :)

  4. Hopping by for the hop! Great review, by the way!! I have seen this cover around a bit, but never really knew what it was about. Will have to check it out more now!

  5. This one sounds like my kind of book! I'm adding it to my wish list.

    Have a great weekend ---

  6. hey there... saw you mention the 1001 books list. I guess as you know about the list, you're aware of the 1001 Books spreadsheet and have a copy of the new v4 edition, right?

    If not, head over to the spreadsheet page on Arukiyomi.