The year's indisputable masterpiece. At an English country house in the 1930s, a self-regarding 13-year-old with a budding writer's powers of invention witnesses a romantic scene that she does not understand, then tells a lie with terrible consequences for the people around her. Virginia Woolf would have admired the way McEwan observes how the mind operates upon the world, how misunderstanding is a form of understanding. Then in the final pages he performs a bewitching narrative sleight of hand that deepens everything that came before. A book that persuades you on every page of the power of the imagination to transfigure, to console, to destroy and to create above all to create fictions as magnificent as this one.