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Nutshell

Narrated by: Rory Kinnear
Length: 5 hrs and 26 mins
Categories: Fiction, Literary
4.5 out of 5 stars (137 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

Nutshell is a classic story of murder and deceit, told by a narrator with a perspective and voice unlike any in recent literature. A bravura performance, it is the finest recent work from a true master.

To be bound in a nutshell, see the world in two inches of ivory, in a grain of sand. Why not, when all of literature, all of art, of human endeavour, is just a speck in the universe of possible things?

©2016 Ian McEwan (P)2016 Random House Audiobooks

What members say

Average Customer Ratings

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  • Overall
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    5 out of 5 stars

Very enjoyable Ian McEwan

Ian McEwan back at his very best. Couldn't put it down. Very quirky and no idea which way it was going to go. Also got the ending right which hasn't always been the case. Also enjoyed the performance all round. Have already recommended this book, even though just finished.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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Excellent story from an unusual perspective!

The story's narrator is an unborn baby... I initially wondered how this would work - but it's engaging and generally excellent. There are brilliant flashes of humour, even though it's against a backdrop of a quietly unfolding thriller. Ian McEwen is at his finest.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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Brilliant!

I resisted this title for ages, not initially attracted by the prospect of foetus as narrator -- but what a masterpiece it is!

Cleverly constructed and beautifully written -- all the more enjoyable for being read by Rory Kinnear.

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Clever and Wickedly Funny Story

What a piece of work is this! How noble in language, how infinite in imagination! In form and moving, how express and admirable ... in telling how like a god ... ( With apologies to Shakespeare!)

I thoroughly enjoyed Ian Mc Ewan’s playful retelling of the Hamlet story, and I am in awe of the author’s masterful use of language, which is accentuated by the excellent audio book narration. This is a wickedly funny and very clever story. Mc Ewan even manages to work in the device of the ghost of Hamlet’s father. Yet, although numerous Shakespearean references are skilfully integrated into the story, readers would still enjoy this book without having any knowledge of the play, ‘Hamlet’. The characterization is excellent, and the well-told story is both amusing and suspenseful. I highly recommend this audio book and intend listening to it again and again to appreciate the beautiful prose and bitingly funny and insightful commentary.

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Ian mcewan is a revelation

Really enjoyed the writer - fantastically eloquently and densely put prose about many aspects of life with a light storyline and a twist to boot. Philosophical snippets as a story. Very enjoyable.

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in a nutshell

So clever, witty and amusing. Fun spotting the Shakespeare reference or quote! bard fans must read

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Enjoyed.. different.. wouldn't rave.

Different style for McEwan which intrigued me and liked the ironical tone of the story which the narrator conveyed well.

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McEwan is brilliant as always!

Would you consider the audio edition of Nutshell to be better than the print version?

Yes - enacted by excellent performer.

What was one of the most memorable moments of Nutshell?

The closing scene.

Which character – as performed by Rory Kinnear – was your favourite?

The unborn child. First peron narrator.

Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?

Not really becuase there were so many motfis and allusions to Hamlet that I needed to reflect on.

Any additional comments?

Very clever.

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A masterpiece -- brilliant, witty, profound and moving.

If I could give this book 6/5 stars, I would. One of the best books I've ever read (or rather, heard). I have had to stop myself from going back for a 4th listen. One of those books you grieve for when it's finished. There is so much in it--every sentence is so elegant, rich, beautifully crafted and full of meaning. And the narrator (Rory Kinnear) is marvellous.

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Ian Mcewan never fails

I particularly loved the narrator voice - a wise yet innocent and unknowing, unborn baby in the womb, hearing all and interpreting for us what he heard and surmised, A clever device that really worked for me.

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  • Benjamin Myers
  • 28-10-2016

Hilarious, thrilling story

What a blast! A terrifically funny and thrilling murder story, told by an unforgettable narrator. One of the most entertaining books I've read in quite some time: this is Ian McEwan at his mischievous, exuberant best.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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  • cate edwards
  • 27-10-2016

i wanted more

beautifully crafted, creative, insightful - i wanted more . I will listen to it again.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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  • JohnyCash
  • 11-03-2017

Best Ian's book

One of best book i ever read. It shall be awarded by a Nobel prize

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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  • Anniebligh
  • 03-12-2016

"a lucky beach"

Bless me! Here is Rory Kinnear reading Ian McEwan

I have only enjoyed language as much as I have this, with my first reading of Virginia Wolf.

We read or listen for all sorts of reasons. I am 'catching up' on all those decades when I had to get up for work in the morning. Taste does change and still some books can only be read in hard copy to be slowly enjoyed like Nabakov and. I had begun to think like Virginia Wolf. And Ian McEwan.
My choice of genre ranges far and wide and at times takes huge leaps of hope in choosing an audiobook.
Here we have Ian McEwan being read on audio by Rory Kinnear
Delight.

I will have to find a hard copy though to learn if Ian M wanted a 'bow' to mean a pretty knot or a masculine curtsy. Such (maybe small) things pull up my blissful enjoyment of both story and words being read with so easy a voice.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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  • Emily
  • 12-03-2019

An classic story with a new perspective.

Nutshell has a very interesting premise - It’s a novel narrated from the womb by a soon-to-be-born, highly articulate protagonist. Unique? Quite possibly. Engaging from the outset? Absolutely.

It’s a story about relationships between unborn child and mother, and a tangled web of lies and deception. Based on a classic, to say more would be to give the game away, and this is a story where you’ll enjoy the journey as the narrative unfolds.

The narrator (Rory Kinnear) is well-chosen, and brings life to all the characters. His voicing of the protagonist’s inner thoughts effortlessly flips from the urbane to those driven by juvenile desire and focus. An excellent characterisation of such an unusual protagonist.

If I had one thing to state in criticism, the novel was a touch too long than it needed to be, however, I did enjoy listening to it, and would recommend it to anyone after a highly literary listen with an usual perspective at its core.

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  • A. Brenninkmeijer
  • 04-08-2017

Great performance, reader and author well matched.

My wife and I listened in the car during a long drive. We both loved it. Very erudite. Highly recommended especially if you like wine tasting. The nutshell perspective works brilliantly.

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  • Philip
  • 30-04-2017

Riveting perspective on the plotting of a murder!

Having a fully conscious as-yet-unborn baby provide the first person perspective on the plotting of a murder, is absolutely unique. Definitely my book recommendation for this month!

Both the writer and the narrator have done a great job.

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  • Sarah Rayner
  • 29-12-2018

Not McEwan's best, by a significant margin

Other listeners have loved this, but it left me thinking McEwan is no Shakespeare. Granted, he has a splendid vocabulary and can pun and play like few others, but it made me consider that Hamlet’s greatness is surely largely because WS has us gunning for him as a protagonist, we feel his pain and conflict, in short, we empathise. ‘Nutshell’ on the other hand, has not a single empathetic character. (Others, including you, dear review reader, may not mind this. I do. I found Elizabeth Day’s brilliantly written The Party left me cold for the same reason.)

The unborn child’s voice in Nutshell is utterly self centred (as a foetus would be, granted) and lacks much nuance. He is as greedy and angry and as thoroughly unpleasant as his mother and uncle. I found it a bitter, nihilistic piece of writing, depressing in its world view and misanthropic in its portrayal of character. Because we know roughly what’s going to happen much narrative drive is also lost, and I came away thinking it was an interesting idea that doesn’t, overall, work. But other readers disagree so if you’re torn, I suggest you sample the start to see if it appeals.

39 of 42 people found this review helpful

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  • Simon
  • 01-09-2016

Hamlet From The Womb

Only Ian McEwan . . . Hamlet from within the womb. It’s just so incongruent that it’s likely it simply won’t work for some readers. However if you can make the not insignificant mental leap of believing in an unborn baby with more sophistication than most of us ever manage (certainly me!) then the sheer quality of the writing carries the day. McEwan is an intelligent and observant writer who includes a lot of commentary about the human condition. His prose is extremely eloquent and the Shakespeare allusions don’t end with Hamlet. Hints of Macbeth raise their ghostly heads too.

The narration by Rory Kinnear is extremely well suited to the book and he delivers both the criminality and the not inconsiderable humour with aplomb. The story itself is actually a relatively simple one that's as old as the hills themselves. It's the unique point of view that sets it apart.

All this taken together makes this admittedly brief novel a satisfyingly original take on an old subject. If you value originality and quality writing then it’s well worth a go, just be prepared for the leap of faith that’s required from the very start.

39 of 44 people found this review helpful

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  • h3559
  • 23-05-2018

Superb - suggested by Book Group

I would never have chosen to read this but amazing! Addictive listening. I couldn't switch it off. 😊

12 of 13 people found this review helpful

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  • Philip
  • 14-01-2017

He's a proper writer, gov'nor

Not a whodunnit, as you know who's going to do it from the start. The premise sounds silly and annoying, with the story told by the unborn child of the plotting-murderess. But, my goodness, he can write, and what a contrast to the last two I've read (Grisham and Horowitz, great storytellers but...) every word and sentence counts and is a literary masterpiece. But still edge of the seat stuff. On the highly recommended list. Ending leaves you hanging, but to be expected due to the expecting, I guess.

16 of 18 people found this review helpful

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  • Dorothy & Joe Yeomans
  • 15-02-2018

A demonstration of literary skill

I can't pretend this was enjoyable although skilfully written. No sympathetic characters and the very odd framework of the highly talkative foetus eventually produces an obvious conclusion. At least it was well read and fairly short.

14 of 17 people found this review helpful

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  • S.Hope
  • 08-02-2018

Perspective is everything. Excellent!

A riveting suspense, full of intrigue and enough realism and mystery to stop you switching off. A twist on a murder mystery that would make Agatha Christie proud. A story brought to life and read brilliantly.

6 of 7 people found this review helpful

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  • Baz Borozitch
  • 06-09-2016

Superb Writing Good Story

A great idea brilliantly realised. Story telling and pace were perfect and the unusual narrator a stroke of genius.
Very well read too.

7 of 9 people found this review helpful

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  • Cynthia Curran
  • 02-09-2016

An intellectual triumph

Any additional comments?

I haven't liked all of McEwan's books and I approached this one warily because I was fearful that the fetus narrator was an attention seeking device. From the very first sentence, I was enthralled. This book is unique, intellectually wide-ranging in its allusions and hilarious! I know my Hamlet but I am not a specialist nor am I a Shakespearean fanatic but the way that McEwan plays with the language and themes of the play is nothing short of triumphant. I am finding it difficult to come up with a variety of superlatives so I'll just say 'Download this book today.' The only thing that equals this gem of a novel is Rory Kinnear's superb narration. No, he doesn't narrate this text; he brings it to life.

14 of 19 people found this review helpful

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  • Susan Whitehead
  • 11-11-2016

Nutshell

Absolutely fabulous, fantastic story well told by Rory Kinnear. It is amazingly gripping throughout the whole tale.

6 of 8 people found this review helpful

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  • Wras
  • 07-09-2016

it’s always now, always here, never then and there

Ian McEwan

This is an amazing book of the here and now, a snapshot of our present; a tragedy of Shakespearian proportions, a global ringing of bells and sirens of a world drowning in contradictions, of civilizations cultures and religions in full metamorphosys. Will it be a stillbirth? Or will the innocent pay for the crimes of the cognisant?

Human life commenting on humanity and all the demented happenings of today; I wonder if it is too contemporary to survive the future but perhaps it is us or I who will not survive the consequences of the here mentioned and this little Hamlet will continue to “suffer the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune” questioning our humanity and our weaknesses and for ever floating into new minds to pose old questions.

A book that needs many reads and much consideration, no word is wasted, no one is safe and all is exposed with incisive commentary and dialog.

The gestation of thought and ideas in a nutshell.

20 of 29 people found this review helpful