I’ve just read The Innocent, and here’s what I think.
Ian McEwan appears to have a particular style: pick a life-changing moment and write around it. The Innocent follows this approach and is about a young man working on a secret spying mission in Berlin after the war. He falls in love with a German girl and starts to find his place in the world away from home for the first time. Then the big thing happens and his life is turned upside down.
As always with McEwan, the threads intertwine nicely with enough elements to distract from the obvious, and the big thing is significant enough to matter. The book’s weakness is in its conclusion. Without giving it away, suffice to say it feels a bit like a cop-out.
The Innocent is an early example of McEwan’s style and is entertaining enough in itself. However, if you’re not a fan, or just want a good read, go for something more recent. I prefer Attonement and Enduring Love.