Atonement Author:Ian McEwan The novel opens on a sweltering summer day in 1935 at the Tallis family's mansion in the Surrey countryside. Thirteen-year-old Briony has written a play in honor of the visit of her adored older brother Leon; other guests include her three young cousins -- refugees from their parent's marital breakup -- Leon?s friend Paul Marshall, the manufactu... more »rer of a chocolate bar called "Amo" that soldiers will be able to carry into war, and Robbie Turner, the son of the family charlady whose brilliantly successful college career has been funded by Mr. Tallis. Jack Tallis is absent from the gathering; he spends most of his time in London at the War Ministry and with his mistress. His wife Emily is a semi-invalid, nursing chronic migraine headaches. Their elder daughter Cecilia is also present; she has just graduated from Cambridge and is at home for the summer, restless and yearning for her life to really begin. Rehearsals for Briony's play aren't going well; her cousin Lola has stolen the starring role, the twin boys can?t speak the lines properly, and Briony suddenly realizes that her destiny is to be a novelist, not a dramatist.
In the midst of the long hot afternoon, Briony happens to be watching from a window when Cecilia strips off her clothes and plunges into the fountain on the lawn as Robbie looks on. Later that evening, Briony thinks she sees Robbie attacking Cecilia in the library, she reads a note meant for Cecilia, her cousin Lola is sexually assaulted, and she makes an accusation that she will repent for the rest of her life.
The next two parts of Atonement shift to the spring of 1940 as Hitler's forces are sweeping across the Low Countries and into France. Robbie Turner, wounded, joins the disastrous British retreat to Dunkirk. Instead of going up to Cambridge to begin her studies, Briony has become a nurse in one of London?s military hospitals. The fourth and final section takes place in 1999, as Briony celebrates her 77th birthday with the completion of a book about the events of 1935 and 1940, a novel called Atonement.
In its broad historical framework Atonement is a departure from McEwan's earlier work, and he loads the story with an emotional intensity and a gripping plot reminiscent of the best nineteenth-century fiction. Brilliant and utterly enthralling in its depiction of childhood, love and war, England and class, the novel is a profoundly moving exploration of shame and forgiveness and the difficulty of absolution.« less
I tried to read this book a few years ago, but I couldn't get into it. I must say, I'm glad I tried again. This time around, I couldn't put the book down. It's a beautifully written story, and the author perfectly captures the emotions of the characters and the moods of the situations. I can easily see why this was on Time magazine's list of 100 all-time novels. It was one of the best books I have read in a while. It's a captivating story and remarkably well-written.
This is one of the best books that I have ever read.
Mr. McEwan's writing is incredible. His descriptions of places and characters put the reader right in the scene. The author squeezes out of us a whole range of emotions while reading this book. We go from love to hate to fear to hope and despair.
I can't wait to read his others.
It is a quiet summer day in 1935 England. This otherwise peaceful day culminates in a single tragic event that entirely shapes the second part of the story. McEwan uses first half of book to describe this days happenings from many points of view. The replay of simple domestic activities through the eyes of one person after another slows the story at first. Story picks up intensity towards the end of part I.
The story is action filled WWII fiction in part II. The reason McEwan retells story from so many different points of view in part I becomes clear in last 50 pages. Recommended mostly for those who enjoy character driven fiction or European period writing.
Well written story, a Golden Globe winning film in 2007.
I only wish I could call this book an easy read. To me, Atonement was a struggle, only because I knew such an emotional book could only end in heartbreak. I found Atonement hauntingly beautiful, and though I finished it three or four days ago, I find myself constantly thinking about the questions the book raises. My first Ian Mcewan, but definitely not my last. I am also planning on reading No Time For Romance, by Lucilla Andrews, whom Mcewan borrowed from to bring Atonement together.
I've just finished, and all I can say is... wow. Just wow. I stepped into this book (and the movie) knowing exactly what the ending was, but that didn't prepare me at all. Both movie and book made me cry about five times apiece. (Even on the second time I saw the movie.) You will genuinely feel for these characters-- you will hate Briony, you will empathize with Cecilia, but most of all, you will feel horrible for Robbie. Oh how I loved and pitied him! I credit Ian McEwan for giving a startlingly realistic depiction of the war and being able to evoke such human emotion. Read this book, or at the very least, see the movie. They're both excellent.