Graham Greene-ish. A 25 year old British man who has lived with his parents up until now is sent to work on a secret tunnel in 1950s Berlin, a joint project between the British and Americans. He falls in love with a divorced German woman who introduces him to sex and love. Their relationship is threatened first when he rapes her (having tasted power and wanting more of it) and again when her ex-husband turns up and he feels pressured to be the strong man he has never been.
The prose only sometimes achieves the clarity and beauty which make McEwan one of my favourite writers. But I see in this novel interesting roots for later themes or scenes – Leonard rehearses a letter in much the way Robbie does in Atonement; the descriptions of Berlin resonate with those in Black Dogs; the couple have not so a disastrous wedding night as in Chesil Beach, but a disastrous engagement night for completely different reasons which still manage to tear the couple apart. Indeed, the ending of the novel is – SPOILER ALERT – quite similar to Chesil Beach.