Publisher: Vintage Canada
A National and International Bestseller
A Globe and Mail Notable Book of 1998

On a chilly February day two old friends meet in the throng outside a crematorium to pay their last respects to Molly Lane. Both Clive Linley and Vernon Halliday had been Molly's lovers in the days before they reached their current eminence — Clive as Britain's most successful modern composer, Vernon as editor of the broadsheet The Judge. But gorgeous, feisty Molly had other lovers too, notably Julian Garmony, the Foreign Secretary, a notorious right-winger poised to be the next prime minister. What happens in the aftermath of her funeral has a profound and shocking effect on all her lovers' lives, and erupts in the most purely enjoyable fiction Ian McEwan has ever written.


Two former lovers of Molly Lane stood waiting outside the crematorium chapel with their backs to the February chill. It had all been said before, but they said it again.

"She never knew what hit her."

"When she did it was too late."

"Rapid onset."

"Poor Molly...
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1. Talk about the tone of this novel. Is it ironic? Humorous? Menacing?

2. Think about Clive and Vernon and your feelings about each at different stages of the novel. Did those feelings change? If so, at what key points?

3. In a relatively short novel, the author devotes many pages to Clive's creative...

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"A dark tour de force, perfectly fashioned."
—Michiko Kakutani, The New York Times

"A well-oiled machine....Ruthless and amusing."
The New York Times Book Review

"Beautifully spare prose, wicked observation, and dark comic brio."
The Boston Globe

"At once far-reaching and tightly self-contained, a fin de siécle phantasmagoria."
New York

"Ian McEwan has proven himself to be one of Britain's most distinct voices and one of its most versatile talents....Chilling and darkly comic."
Chicago Tribune

"By far his best work to energizing tightrope between feeling and lack of feeling, between humanity's capacity to support and save and its equally ubiquitous penchant for detachment and cruelty."
The San Diego Union-Tribune

"You won't find a more enjoyable novel...masterfully wrought, sure to delight a reader with even half a sense of humor."
The Atlant Journal-Constitution

"McEwan writes the sort of witty repartee and scathing retort we wished we thought of in the heat of battle. On a broader scale, McEwan's portrayal of the mutually parasitic relationship between politicians and journalists is as damning as it is comic."
The Christian Science Monitor