On the hottest day of the summer of 1935, thirteen-year-old Briony Tallis sees her older sister Cecilia strip off her clothes and plunge into the fountain in the garden of their country house. Watching Cecilia is their housekeeper's son Robbie Turner, a childhood friend who, along with Briony's sister, has recently graduated from Cambridge. By the ...Read MoreOn the hottest day of the summer of 1935, thirteen-year-old Briony Tallis sees her older sister Cecilia strip off her clothes and plunge into the fountain in the garden of their country house. Watching Cecilia is their housekeeper's son Robbie Turner, a childhood friend who, along with Briony's sister, has recently graduated from Cambridge. By the end of that day the lives of all three will have been changed forever. Robbie and Cecilia will have crossed a boundary they had never before dared to approach and will have become victims of the younger girl's scheming imagination. And Briony will have committed a dreadful crime, the guilt for which will color her entire life. In each of his novels Ian McEwan has brilliantly drawn his reader into the intimate lives and situations of his characters. But never before has he worked with so large a canvas: In "Atonement "he takes the reader from a manor house in England in 1935 to the retreat from Dunkirk in 1941; from the London's World War II military hospitals to a reunion of the Tallis clan in 1999. "Atonement" is Ian McEwan's finest achievement. Brilliant and utterly enthralling in its depiction of childhood, love and war, England and class, the novel is at its center a profound-and profoundly moving-exploration of shame and forgiveness and the difficulty of absolution.Read Less
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engaging, well-developed story
enjoyed it very much
Jun 3, 2011
Received as promised all well.
Oct 28, 2008
Children tell the ugliest lies
If you like love stories with happy endings then this is not the book for you.
The story revolves around Robbie and Cee, two childhood friends who realize on a hot summer afternoon that they have been in love with one another for awhile. Briony, Cee's bratty little sister will be a silent witness to their most private moments. And because she is young and doesn't understand what is going on, this will compell her to accuse Robbie of sexually assualting her cousin who is living with them.
While the ending is disaapointing and sad, it does beg the question. How long must one atone for their misdeed and causing so much misery in so many lives?
Jun 7, 2008
Read before you see the movie!
Not since the early literature of Virginia Woolf and James Joyce have I read such intriguing prose. Ian McEwan really is a contemporary master, whose novels will be read for a long time to come. Atonement, the story of a childhood 'crime' with lifelong repercussions, is thrilling, heartbreaking, and highly relatable. This is a novel for readers in search of more intellectual meat, but is not so heady as to put you off. I would recommend this novel to anyone in search of an absorbing, haunting story.
Apr 11, 2008
I just finished this book after starting it in November 2007. I found that this book had redeeming qualities in its storyline, description of the World War II era, characters, and other qualities. But, in my case, I had a hard time getting really into the book. The style was wordy and kind of difficut to follow at times. I felt no urge to finish the book quickly. Even the interesting plotline and characters could not overshadow the elements of the novel that continually dragged me down. Perhaps my reaction was due to my own expectations. If you're looking for a quick, light, easy-to-read book, this is probably not for you. If you're looking for a "thinking book" with themes and morals to contemplate, along with a romance, you should give this book a try.
Publishers Weekly, 2001-11-19 This haunting novel, which just failed to win the Booker this year, is at once McEwan at his most closely observed and psychologically penetrating, and his most sweeping and expansive. It is in effect two, or even three, books in one, all masterfully crafted. The first part ushers us into a domestic crisis that becomes a crime story centered around an event that changes the lives of half a dozen people in an upper-middle-class country home on a hot English summer's day in 1935. Young Briony Tallis, a hyperimaginative 13-year-old who sees her older sister, Cecilia, mysteriously involved with their neighbor Robbie Turner, a fellow Cambridge student subsidized by the Tallis family, points a finger at Robbie when her young cousin is assaulted in the grounds that night; on her testimony alone, Robbie is jailed. The second part of the book moves forward five years to focus on Robbie, now freed and part of the British Army that was cornered and eventually evacuated by a fleet of small boats at Dunkirk during the early days of WWII. This is an astonishingly imagined fresco that bares the full anguish of what Britain in later years came to see as a kind of victory. In the third part, Briony becomes a nurse amid wonderfully observed scenes of London as the nation mobilizes. No, she doesn't have Robbie as a patient, but she begins to come to terms with what she has done and offers to make amends to him and Cecilia, now together as lovers. In an ironic epilogue that is yet another coup de the tre, McEwan offers Briony as an elderly novelist today, revisiting her past in fact and fancy and contributing a moving windup to the sustained flight of a deeply novelistic imagination. With each book McEwan ranges wider, and his powers have never been more fully in evidence than here. Author tour. (Mar. 19) Forecast: McEwan's work has been building a strong literary readership, and the brilliantly evoked prewar and wartime scenes here should extend that; expect strong results from handselling to the faithful. The cover photo of a stately English home nicely establishes the novel's atmosphere (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved
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