affair with an older man during her final year at Cambridge, and finds
herself being groomed for the intelligence services. The year is 1972.
Britain, confronting economic disaster, is being torn apart by industrial
unrest and terrorism and faces its fifth state of emergency. The Cold War
has entered a moribund phase, but the fight goes on, especially in the
cultural sphere. Serena, a compulsive reader of novels, is sent on a
'secret mission' which brings her into the literary world of Tom Healey, a
promising young writer. First she loves his stories, then she begins to
love the man. Can she maintain the fiction of her undercover life? And who
is inventing whom? To answer these questions, Serena must abandon the first rule of espionage - trust no one. McEwan's mastery dazzles us in this
superbly deft and witty story of betrayal and intrigue, love and the invented self.