Sunday, February 17, 2008

BOOK: Atonement by Ian McEwan

Atonement by Ian McEwan

Book Awards Reading Challenge: NBCC 2002 winner, Man Booker Challenge (shortlist 2001)

If I am going to see clips at the Academy Awards ceremony about this movie, I want to know what the book is about without the ending being given away. This is also a book from the shortlisted books of the Man Booker Prize.

From the cover:
On the hottest day of the summer of 1934, thirteen-year-old Briony Tallis sees her sister Cecilia strip off her clothes and plunge into the fountain in the garden of their country house. Watching her is Robbie Turner, her childhood friend who, like Cecilia, has recently come down from Cambridge.

By the end of that day, the lives of all three will have been changed for ever. Robbie and Cecilia will have crossed a boundary they had not even imagined at its start, and will have become victims of the younger girl's imagination. Briony will have witnessed mysteries, and committed a crime for which she will spend the rest of her life trying to atone.

I copied the plot summary from the cover because I don't want to give anything away. I've been carefully avoiding reviews of this book for the past few months so as not to know anything I shouldn't know. All I knew was that it had 'an ending'. And I loved the ending. I won't say any more than that, but I know some people who were disappointed by the ending.

There are three sections to this book: 1934 when the event occurs, Robbie's trek across France during the war, and Briony in present day. I found the war section went on a little too long, but other wise, I sped through this book, reading great chunks at a time and anxious to find out how it ended. McEwan writes great prose, builds suspence, but a little too much with the colours and descriptions at times, but the story moved along nicely, and I've enjoyed my time in prewar England this weekend. It feels good to read a book I've been meaning to read for quite a while, and that it didn't disappoint.


  1. Sigh. When WILL I get to this book? =)

  2. jill - that's how I felt. I think I've read 3 or 4 reviews of this book since January. My friend that gave me the book didn't like it, but we seldom agree on books, so she thought I'd like it.

  3. I really liked the twist at the end too. I thought it was a very nice touch and so fitting considering the tone set at the beginning of the novel. It all came together nicely. I am glad you enjoyed this one and weren't disappointed! Are you going to see the movie now?

  4. I have never had a desire to read this book, but your review has convinced me that I would like it.

  5. wendy - I have to think about everything again, in the new light after the ending, but yes, I htought he did a great job. I don't get to a lot of movies - Juno and No Coutry for Old Men are higher up on my list.

    booklogged - Arh! the pressure! I hope I haven't steered you wrong yet.
    I found it readable and interesting. I really liked the student nurses during the war in the London hospitals - such a different time.

  6. I read this book a few years ago but I wasn't very impressed.

  7. I think you were right to read the book before you see the movie. I haven't done either yet, but that's how I'm going to do it. Wish I'd done it for "No Country For Old Men". :D

  8. I started this one on a plane trip and couldn't get into it, but I'm hoping to get back to it, very soon. I'm glad you enjoyed it!

  9. I read this book a couple of months ago, and then saw the movie. I liked, but not loved, them both. I have to say though that the story has really grown on me since then.

  10. yay, I'm glad that this book didn't disappoint! And I loved the ending as well--I couldn't have imagined it any other way.

  11. I thoroughly enjoyed the ending to this book. In actuality, I thoroughly enjoyed the last 1/3 of the book but I found it very difficult to get through the first 2/3's. This book did not grab my attention and I was able to put it down and not think about it or what would happen.
    Perhaps it was too hyped up. I am a very big fan of Pride and Prejudice and I heard this book compared to it many times - that is, in fact, why I decided to read it.
    From a literary standpoint, I see what everyone is saying - it was interesting, a little unconventional and very thought provoking. But from an enjoyable read standpoint, it didn't particularly enjoy this one.


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