Monday, January 17, 2011

Review: Atonement

I had heard so much about this book that I approached it with great anticipation. At first I was disappointed. Actually, I was disappointed for much of the book. Then, I reached the end of the book, and I was blown away. The ending of this book changed the entire experience of reading it. The ending was startling and moving, and well-worth the time to get there.

The book spans more than sixty years, from the mid-thirties to 1999. It begins on a fateful summer day in 1935, when thirteen-year old Briony Tallis witnesses the interactions between her sister and the son of a family servant. Unable to understand the budding romance between Cecilia Tallis and Robbie Turner, Briony's response causes a devastating set of consequences. These consequences alter multiple lives.

A significant portion of the book takes place during the Second World War, and the grizzly realities of the battlefield are presented in full detail. Be ready for plenty of stomach-turning injuries. The language in the book is very atmospheric. The prose describing the summer evening is sultry and languid, nearly as stultifying as the heat itself. The language does seem showy and a bit overdone. Why McEwan makes this choice becomes evident later in the book. This is a somewhat difficult book to get into, but it is well worth pushing through to the ending.

Ian McEwan, Atonement (Anchor, 2003) ISBN:


Alleged Author said...

I loved this book because of the imagery. It swept over me as I read it. Great spotlight!

R.M. said...

I did enjoy this book! And you've said all truthful things about it. I never saw the movie. This story is based on a lie and liars - and the liars can come clean, but they don't. They continue to deceive, for 60 years. This was a great review - thanks!