The literary event of the season: a new novel from Ian McEwan, as surprising as it is masterful.
Michael Beard is a Nobel prize–winning physicist whose best work is behind him. Trading on his reputation, he speaks for enormous fees, lends his name to the letterheads of renowned scientific institutions, and half-heartedly heads a government-backed initiative tackling global warming. While he coasts along in his professional life, Michael’s personal life is another matter entirely. His fifth marriage is crumbling under the weight of his infidelities. But this time the tables are turned: His wife is having an affair, and Michael realizes he is still in love with her.
When Michael’s personal and professional lives begin to intersect in unexpected ways, an opportunity presents itself in the guise of an invitation to travel to New Mexico. Here is a chance for him to extricate himself from his marital problems, reinvigorate his career, and very possibly save the world from environmental disaster. Can a man who has made a mess of his life clean up the messes of humanity?
A complex novel that brilliantly traces the arc of one man’s ambitions and self-deceptions, Solar is a startling, witty, and stylish new work from one of the world’s great writers.
From the Hardcover edition.
"He belonged to that class of men -- vaguely unprepossessing, often bald, short, fat, clever -- who were unaccountably attractive to certain beautiful women." This first sentence of Ian McEwan's new novel describes Michael Beard, age 53, a British Nobel-winning physicist and television celebrity. Unfortunately for Beard, the fifth of those women to marry him is openly sleeping with the couple's building contractor, Rodney Tarpin. Although Beard has cheated on Patrice, he now wants her back and decides to make her jealous by pretending that he has a female visitor while Patrice is in her bedroom. He finds a woman's voice on the radio, turns it up, and intercuts it with his voice. After a few minutes, "He went into the bathroom, ran a tap, flushed the lavatory and laughed out loud. Then he gave out a muted whoop. Patrice should know he was having fun." With this not so "clever" scheme and more to follow, Beard joins a distinguished line of bumbling cuckolds -- Joyce's Bloom, Nabokov's Humbert, Bellow's Herzog -- in McEwan's first go at a comic novel.