#61 Nutshell by Ian McEwan

30008702Darkly comic, Ian McEwan’s Nutshell brings a loose retelling of Hamlet into modern-day London and positions the tragic “prince” in utero, a witness to the murder machinations at play between his mother and her lover as they plot to kill his father.

Nutshell is definitely clever, in concept and execution, with fine writing throughout, though the novel bows under the weight of that heady cleverness. The plot hinges on one unsurprising act, and the story leaves no real emotional impact. While it is unlikely that there has ever been a more erudite or insightful womb-bound being, the other characters, blandly conniving caricatures, cannot live up to the narrative technique.

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