The Comfort of Strangers by Ian McEwan

The Comfort of Strangers

Set in Venice, two unsuspecting tourists, Colin and Mary, are vulnerable prey for those who know their way around. When searching for a restaurant, the couple encounters a polite man called Robert, who offers help, and then they enjoy a night of story telling and drinking. Yet somehow they will meet him again and become drawn into a fantasy of violence and obsession.

Details The Comfort of Strangers

TitleThe Comfort of Strangers
Release DateFeb 8th, 2011
GenreFiction, Contemporary, European Literature, British Literature

Reviews The Comfort of Strangers

  • Paul Bryant
    This was exactly the novel I didn’t want to read, but at least it’s official now – NO MORE IAN MCEWAN BOOKS FOR ME, EVER. I would like to tell you how stupid this novel is, but Maciek beat me to it – see his great review here let me tell you about the boring sentences you have to accept into your life if you read this book. Here’s one:Now, in the late afternoon, although the sun was still high, ...
  • Lisa
    Introduction:As I have taught teenagers the art of writing an essay, and they have taught me the art of detecting a shortcut, I will apply it here (the shortcut, that is), for honestly, the deeply hidden teenager in me tells me that I should not, under any circumstances, waste too much time writing a review of this book. To search for a reasonable plot, characterisation, or purpose (except for cheap voyeurism and violence) is quite futile. I shou...
  • Maciek
    This was the first novel by Ian McEwan that I've read ages ago. I got a copy from a supermarket sale and read it in a day, wondering all the time how someone could write down so many nasty things and get away with it. Cut me some slack, I was 10.So, as I sat to rediscover this classic, I hoped to feel at least a fraction of the weird pleasure this novel brought me back then. The thing is short - 120 pages long - and you can easily breeze through ...
  • Agnieszka
    I normally don't write negative reviews. But this novel far too long bothered me so I need to get out it of my system. I hope it helps.Definitely the worst McEwan’s novel I’ve read by now. It’s creepy and stupid. I mean protagonists are stupid and some creepy things happen to them. Probably because they are stupid. Colin and Mary go for a holiday to take some rest, escape ennui and maybe rekindle withered desire. Since I’m generous today ...
  • Glenn Sumi
    Yikes. Did I just read that? Or did I dream it? - thoughts just after finishing The Comfort Of Strangers3.5 rounded up to 4. After reading three Ian McEwan novels, each one different but all rather elegant and civilized, I thought I’d try one of his early books, written back when he had the nickname “Ian Macabre.”The Comfort Of Strangers (1981) is a chilling psychological thriller about Colin and Mary, an attractive, if rather self-absorbed...
  • ❀Julie
    I seem to be in the minority based on the ratings, but something about this story grabbed me right from the start.  There is irony in the title as the story brings anything but comfort, which may actually be why I liked it.  The characters are rather strange and unlikable, their relationships are strained, and the story reaffirms everything you were taught as a child about not talking to strangers.  An English couple’s holiday takes on an ee...
  • Matteo Fumagalli
    HOLIDAY IN HELL.Videorecensione: vacanza all'inferno, quella che fanno Colin e Mary, innamoratissimi ma con la passione sessuale non più accesa come un tempo. Un continuo girovagare in una città marittima disorganizzata e senza indicazioni (È Venezia? Il lettore se ne accorge, ma è come se gli stessi personaggi non lo sappiano affatto), un non-luogo torrido, incredibilmente desolante e privo di coordinate come ...
  • Shovelmonkey1
    We're all going on a (pause) summer holiday. No more working for a week or two....Or permanently because we make poor choices about accepting cordial invites from complete strangers. What is it about a glass of two of Prosecco on a warm summers afternoon that makes people so trusting of random strangers when they're on holiday? Perhaps we find some of our holiday locations so idealistic and romantic that it's like a fairy tale and so we'll merril...
  • Fabian
    "The Comfort of Strangers" is the unfortunate combination of McEwan's two worst books (which were published decades later, obviously): "Saturday" and "On Chesil Beach." It has that PVoAA (Powerful Voice of Authentic Authority), or that I've-published-stuff-now-I-will-see-places-with-the-eyes-of-a-wealthy-man tone. Ya know, the rich who think they're above even common violence (made, obviously, more "horrific" by their occurrence to a man of abund...
  • Amaranta
    Colin e Mary sono una coppia di turisti in vacanza. Sono indolenti, vivono le loro giornate fra le lenzuola fresche di un hotel, uscendo la sera a cena, bevendo e fumando qualcosa. Non sappiamo dove sono. Una città che dalla descrizione sembrerebbe Venezia. E ci trascinano nelle loro giornate senza senso, in discussioni silenziose in un tempo immobile, in un’abitudine ai loro corpi che è normalità, piacere, delicatezza e conforto. Ognuno si ...
  • Julie Christine
    Creepy and spare, this will not be among my favorite of McEwan's remarkable oeuvre. And yet. The Comfort of Strangers was published nearly thirty-five years ago and there is a timelessness about its tone and the shadowy, shuddery story. Perhaps because its setting-Venice (unnamed, but sketched down to the detail of aroma of decay and filtered sunlight)-has not changed. McEwan carefully withheld markers of politics and pop culture, as if somehow k...
  • Rebecca
    This is the earliest McEwan work I’ve read (1981). I could see the seeds of his classic themes: obsession, sexual and otherwise; and the slow building of suspense and awareness until an inevitable short burst of violence. Mary and Colin are a vacationing couple in Venice. One evening they’ve spent so long in bed that by the time they get out all the local restaurants have shut, but a bar-owner takes pity and gives them sustenance, then a plac...
  • Sandra
    Un romanzo enigmatico e inquietante, che parte lento e sonnolento, nel descrivere la relazione tra Colin e Mary, una coppia che non si parla più eppure ciascuno conosce l’altro almeno come sé stesso, per la lunga e abitudinaria convivenza, in vacanza in una città innominata, dominata dall’acqua –un’acqua stagnante ed immobile come le esistenze dei due protagonisti-. Il racconto prosegue in un’atmosfera onirica, come nel mondo ovattat...
  • Steven
    Wonderful and quick piece from McEwan that so captivated me that I was able to finish it in less than one day. Of all of McEwan’s works that I have read thus far, the common theme is the impending feeling of dread that something pretty bad will happen (or at least come close to happening), and no book made me more nervous than this one.The novel concerns an English couple, named Colin and Mary, who are vacationing in a city which is never menti...
  • Mala
    Review of 'The Comfort of Strangers' by Ian McEwan.Recommended for: Travel phobiacs,Armchair travellers,McEwan fansTravel advisory by Ian McEwan:Do not travel.Do not travel to Venice(& Amsterdam as well).Do not go to Venice in summer as the soporific  heat dulls the senses & makes you behave like an airhead.Must have heavy lunch so in case you miss your dinner,you won't go looking for a hotdog stall outside a bar through dark & deserted alleyway...
  • Mark
    Well thank the Lord for bulk buying, that's all I can say. A few weeks ago I bought three Ian McEwan volumes. Two books of his short stories and this very short novel or maybe it is a novella. Anyway whatever it is, it was wonderful. Having just finished 'First Love,Last Rites'(FLLR) and been nauseated by the whole sickness of the themes I was very wary of reading anything else by him but as i had bought the three books and as i have always lived...
  • Kathy
    I'm sorry, Ian McEwan, but I don't believe you.There is nothing about this book that convinces me that any of these people could exist in the real world. I cannot work out how Mary and Colin could be encountered anywhere but in a bad novel. I cannot work out why they - apparently boring, middle class nonentities - would take up with someone who is so obviously a criminal from the first moment that they meet him. I also cannot work out why they wo...
  • Solistas
    "Δεν ήταν πια ένα μεγάλο πάθος. Οι χαρές τους βρίσκονταν στην αβίαστη συντροφικότητα, την οικειότητα των συνηθειών και των τρόπων, το σίγουρο, ακριβές ταίριαγμα μελών κ σωμάτων, τόσο άνετο, όσο η εφαρμογή ενός εκμαγείου στο καλούπι του. Ήταν γενναι...
  • Angeline
    As always, Ian McEwan tells this tale with remarkable descriptions, ensuring that the readers see everyone and everything in the novel the way he himself has pictured it. "The Comfort of Strangers", like "The Cement Garden", is a very quick read. However, it fails to captivate its audience. Pretty much nothing happens up until more than half of the book, which almost made me stop reading it out of complete boredom. His characters are lackluster a...
  • Mizuki
    It's a 'haunting but intriguingly written book' 4.5 stars.The Comfort of Strangers is probably the first book by Ian McEwan, aka 'Ian Macabre', which I have actually finished reading and enjoyed. I never finish The Cement Garden, by the same author,therefore I'm pleasantly surprised to find The Comfort of Strangers so appealing.The story is very simple: a pair of well-to-do, fine looking, highly educated couple went to an unnamed, tourist-crowded...
  • Paolo
    In base a cosa si danno le stellette ?I criteri cambiano nel tempo con ripensamenti anche radicali. Ed il fattore - tempo ha un'incidenza determinante.Per questo libro (del 1981) il fattore - tempo è impietoso: è datato ed invecchiatissimo.I due protagonisti sono due "giovani adulti" radical - chic: si capisce che fanno gli artisti, lei è attrice in un "collettivo teatrale femminile" ed ha un paio di uscite tipicamente vetero - femministe, ma ...
  • Suni
    Dio mio.Allora, con calma: un romanzo che divide, che ad alcuni è piaciuto e ad altri ha fatto schifo, senza tante vie di mezzo.A me ha fatto effetto, diciamo. Piacere è un'altra cosa, ma poche altre letture mi hanno turbata e affascinata e contemporaneamente creato repulsione quanto questa opera "giovanile" di McEwan.Da quando si capisce che dietro alle cortesie da parte della coppia autoctona verso i due turisti c'è qualcosa di losco e torbi...
  • Simona
    McEwan si rivela bravissimo a descrivere, raccontare, indagare l'animo umano. Come già avvenuto in "Chesil beach", in cui ha analizzato le insicurezze di una coppia neosposata, anche qui affronta il non detto, la mancanza di dialogo, la difficoltà di comunicare di una coppia. Una coppia come Colin e Mary, i protagonisti di questo breve libricino, che incedono a piccoli passi nella vita e nel loro rapporto che è scandito da una quotidianità fa...
  • Aprile
    Lettura veloce, incalzante che trasmette gradualmente la curiosità e l'angoscia del finale. La riuscita è decisamente migliore rispetto a "Chesil Beach". A questo punto, mi cimenterò con qualcos'altro di McEwan, anche se sono ancora un po' scettica.
  • John
    Two lovers no longer in their first flush of youth, Mary and Colin, are on holiday in a city that seems very much like Venice, hoping to rekindle the passion that has ebbed from their relationship; Mary's occasional worries about how her kids are getting along with their father hardly help the cause.One night, while lost among the city's twisting streets, they encounter the enigmatic Robert. Soon he and his wife, the near-crippled Caroline, have ...
  • Barbara
    This little book was not a favorite McEwan book for me. Although it had lyrical strengths, it was psychologically cold. I could not help but wonder where the story was going. I will not summarize the plot here, merely comment on the contents.Years ago, my husband and I went to Israel. Our knowledge of the language was meager, mostly the usual pleasantries and words of prayer. We were not part of a tour group, preferring to make our way around the...
  • Julie
    This is by far McEwan’s darkest book and he sets the mood perfectly. Mary and Colin are on holiday, experiencing some unexplained dissatisfaction with each other until a seemingly random encounter with Robert. Robert introduces the couple to his wife Caroline, and right away it is obvious something more sinister is at play. McEwan has written about the impact of strangers once in “Enduring Love,” but Robert and Caroline are more calculating...
  • Jonfaith
    What tended to happen, to Colin and Mary at least, was that subjects were not explored so much as defensively reiterated, or forced into elaborate irrelevancies, and suffused with irritability.This slim weapon is a foggy retreat into the nuptual neuroses during the holiday abroad. All baggage isn't declared at Customs. The soul is a mule through Passport Control. Regret and doubt are the rogue's liquidity, the same for the spouse. Lifting Blanche...
  • Stephanie Sun
    "'I woke up and realized something.. If I'd realized it in the daytime I wouldn't have been so frightened by it.'"Halfway through this book, I spoiled the ending for myself and then almost gave up on it. It was only because I realized that the "strangers" of the title, Robert and Caroline, reminded me of the baroque doms and subs of The Bloody Chamber, and that that book had been published two years before this one and was certainly a waking hour...
  • Vonia
    This is a pretty average Ian McEwan novel for the most part. His magnificent use of the English language is evident, as always; the setting is vague but also familiar, the tone of the entire novel is mysterious, eerie, sinister, with a little noir. It is quite easy to be drawn into the stories apprehensive and dark mood. It is also almost an alternate universe, in which I found myself easily suspending my disbelief in order to accept Mary and Col...
  • Will
    This is one of Ian McAbre’s Ewan’s earlier short novels, and a strange, menacing book it is too. Right from the start there is an air of ennui and lassitude around Mary and Colin as they thread their way through streets whose surroundings they can never quite recall, which adds to the sense of mystery and foreboding: every time they set out without a map they become lost. They have recently quarreled over something minor, but it remains as a ...
  • Yve Chairez
    Ugh. What a disappointment. I would've given it two stars if the writing wasn't so on-point and the author wasn't so good at creating an atmosphere.I was captivated by the way McEwan so precisely defines the tiny, nagging feelings that creep up from travel fatigue, boredom in a relationship, and sexual stagnation. But the plot of this book... McEwan seems to have concentrated all his effort on describing everyday ennui only to fall short later on...
  • Zaki
    I didn't quite like this. I couldn't find many redeeming features. Of course Ian McEwan’s writing is economical and beautifully crafted and in his unique way he can build this tension and take you with him but I couldn't bring myself to care for any of the characters. I couldn't identify with them. I felt that they were two dimensional. Yes, the story does take you along with that impending danger lurking in the background. But I wanted to find...
  • Jale
    Pavese'nin "Yolculuk bir yabanıllıktır. Sizi yabancılara güvenmeye, evinizde ve dostlarınızın yanındayken duyumsadığınız bütün o alışılmış huzurdan uzaklaşmaya zorlar. Sürekli olarak başınız döner. Temel şeyler dışında -yani hava, uyku, düşler, deniz ve gök dışında- hiçbir şey size ait değildir, her şey sonsuza ya da bizim sonsuz diye düşlediğimiz şeye yönelir." sözleriyle başlayan, yabancılıktan, ...
  • G.R. Hewitt
    I enjoyed The Comfort of Strangers. It is a novel that draws you into it, pointing out aspects of interest along the way in an attempt - but not fully succeeding - to divert your attention from an uneasy feeling that creeps in from the beginning. Something’s not right - but what? The tension builds page-by-page until finally, the full realisation of what is about to occur is revealed - nothing can prevent it.
  • Jenn
    Big disappointment, since I loved some of McEwan's other books. Bizarre, disturbing, depressing but ultimately pointless.
  • Andrea Andrei
    "De ce-o fi atat de infricosator sa iubesti pe cineva asa de tare? De ce-o fi atat de inspaimantator?"
  • Ana Rînceanu
    I could not put this book down so I wound up in a dark polarizing place.
  • Roberto
    Le apparenze ingannanoI due personaggi principali, Colin e Mary, sono in vacanza in una città d'arte imprecisata, piena di canali e monumenti. Intelligenti ma viziati, parlano poco, si amano con parecchia moderazione e senza passione (anche se non sono sposati), giracchiano qua e là, si mescolano poco con i turisti e con la gente. Il ritmo del romanzo è lento, il caldo asfissiante, la vacanza noiosa, i dialoghi risicati e banali, i silenzi dil...
  • Peter
    Well, that was a bit pointless. Beautifully written, but utterly absurd in almost every aspect. I'm struggling to even think of enough things to say about it since 90% of the book is about our protagonists being incompetent tourists, while the other 10% is filled with random people being as entertaining as they are random. I also use the word 'entertaining' lightly here, since it's a very dark, somewhat voyeuristic kind of entertainment that you ...
  • Chas Smash
    Fácilmente el peor libro de Ian McEwan que he leído. Es que no hay por donde cogerlo. Colin y Mary, una pareja muy aburrida se van de vacaciones a Venecia y allí conocen a Robert y Caroline, un matrimonio muy estúpido. Lo que pasa después es tan estúpido que no merece la pena ocupar más líneas.
  • Chris Blocker
    Every time I approach an Ian McEwan review—all but the first time, I guess—I feel some dread. McEwan is an author who garners such strong opinions, good and bad. Some think he is a hack writer, overly elaborate with his prose and plots, offensive to say the least. Others think he has incredible talent, that his stories brim with the kind of details that bring them to life. There's probably truth in both arguments, though in the end they're ju...
  • Maria
    Io non ci ho trovato proprio niente di particolare in questo libro. Il finale, abbastanza prevedibile, non mi ha né sconvolto né entusiasmato. Non mi è piaciuto affatto.
  • Mind the Book
    Litterär trängsel råder på caférna kring Markusplatsen. Där sitter sedan tidigare John och Laura från Du Mauriers 'Don't Look Now' vid sidan av det amerikanska paret med självmordspakten från Nessernovellan och nu riktar Ian McEwan kameralinsen mot Colin och Mary. Ute på Lido ligger Gustav von Aschenbach och spanar. Faktum är att de alla liknar varandra, vilsna i Venedig, fast alla är olyckliga på sitt sätt. Såg filmversionen omede...
  • Chiara ☽ Sono sempre vissuta nel castello
    Proprio non riesco a farmi piacere questi libri truci