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Reviewers blow a fuse for McEwan's Machines Like Me

The Week in Review 15 April 2019

Ian McEwan's Machines Like Me (Jonathan Cape) has generated rave reviews, with the speculative sci-fi tale, set in an alternative 1980s Britain, described as "a bravura performance" by the Sunday Times' Peter Kemp, who added, "Machines Like Me displays [McEwan's] repertoire in all its impressive richness." Marcel Theroux in the Guardian agreed, describing it as "morally complex and very disturbing, animated by a spirit of sinister and intelligent mischief that feels unique to its author". However, some critics baulked at the amount of topics McEwan touches upon, with Johanna Thomas-Corr in the Times noting, "There's a lot to chew on here," and the Daily Mail's review stating, "By the end of the book, you might feel [...] pretty stuffed. But you’ll also find it hard not to admire the sheer scale of McEwan’s ambition."

John Barton's A History of the Bible (Allen Lane) had the critics in raptures, with Bart D Ehrman in the Daily Telegraph declaring it to be "essential reading" and Melanie McDonough in the Evening Standard described it as "fascinating". Peter Stanford in the Sunday Times believed the title to be "an extraordinary tour de force", adding "With emotional and psychological insight, Barton unlocks this sleeping giant of our culture for the untrained but curious general reader. In the process, he has produced a masterpiece."

Beth O'Leary's debut The Flatshare (Quercus) has made itself at home on the review pages, earning a 4.6 star rating. The Bookseller's previewer Alice O'Keeffe was first out of the blocks to pronounce the romance "a charming, joyous hit", and Nina Pottell in Prima agreed, describing it as "a quirky, feelgood read, bursting with character and warmth." Woman & Home's Isabelle Broom found it "uproariously funny". 

Ian McEwan

3.78 out of 5

15 reviews

Britain has lost the Falklands war, Margaret Thatcher battles Tony Benn for power and Alan Turing achieves a breakthrough in artificial intelligence. This near-perfect human is beautiful, strong and clever - a love triangle soon forms.

John Barton

4.39 out of 5

8 reviews

A uniquely ambitious study of the Bible's creation: how it came to be written, how its contents were selected - and how it really relates to the religions that endorse it The Bible is the central book of Western culture.

Beth O'Leary

4.60 out of 5

3 reviews

A quirky love story from a fresh new talent. The MUST READ book for 2019