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Atonement by Ian McEwan
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Atonement (2001)

by Ian McEwan

Other authors: See the other authors section.

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingConversations / Mentions
21,98356392 (3.93)1 / 1108
  1. 110
    The Blind Assassin by Margaret Atwood (rbtanger, browner56)
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    browner56: Two superbly crafted explorations of the cathartic power that comes from the act of writing.
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  6. 50
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  7. 30
    The Secret Keeper by Kate Morton (joririchardson)
    joririchardson: Both books begin with a young girl witnessing a crime of sorts that will powerfully affect her own life and the lives of her family members. Both books also are set in England during World War II.
  8. 21
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    BookshelfMonstrosity: These character-driven literary novels set in 20th-century England offer haunting, reflective narratives of secrets, shame and guilt. In each, children make decisions or perform actions that have unintended, tragic consequences and lasting repercussions.… (more)
  11. 10
    The Wars by Timothy Findley (mountebank)
  12. 10
    Rules of Civility by Amor Towles (BookshelfMonstrosity)
    BookshelfMonstrosity: Atonement, like Rules of Civility, paints a picture of events that instantly turn characters' worlds upside down. Also set in the 1930s, it highlights the lingering opulence of the age and how that can disappear amid tragedy.
  13. 00
    The Lake House by Kate Morton (kethorn23)
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    librorumamans: Also a look at the consequences of a childhood crime. For me, though, Fifth Business is better crafted and a more complex examination.
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    MarieSeltenrych: A wonderful work of literary prose that I can still remember, over 50 years after reading it. It gives the reader a glimpse into a different world that inspired my imagination and even my life.
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(see all 26 recommendations)

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English (525)  Dutch (9)  Spanish (7)  German (5)  French (3)  Italian (3)  Catalan (2)  Danish (1)  Swedish (1)  Finnish (1)  Polish (1)  Portuguese (1)  All languages (559)
Showing 1-5 of 525 (next | show all)
Simply brilliant! ( )
  Faradaydon | Aug 4, 2018 |
This book is SOO descriptive! I honestly thought it pulled away from the story a bit. The first third of the book dragged on and on and I was bogged down with the descriptive details of every outfit, thought, vase, drink, and more. It definitely picked up in the second part but I wanted to quit reading long before I got there. In essence, this book is about a young sister who is a total jerk and joy-kill. She does something unforgivable and awful that impacts those closest to her and it has a ripple effect throughout the whole book. I wanted to like this, but I just couldn't get past the flowery pose. I bet the movie is better! ( )
1 vote ecataldi | Jun 4, 2018 |
What a beautifully written book. Holy point of views Batman! Earlier while reading I said it was an adjustment for me considering the lighter fares I have chosen the last few weeks. Atonement forces you to pay close attention to the narrative or you will be quickly lost. The viewpoint is first person, third person, wait...omniscient. Sometimes you don't know where the hell the narration is coming from, but be patient because in the end you will be all knowing. Maybe.
Briony is the driving protagonist and she takes you on a ride that spans her lifetime. There is love and tragedy along the way. The ending will leave you smiling or crying or both. I enjoyed the satisfaction at the end of finally understanding the jumps in viewpoint that were so masterfully done. Enjoy, I certainly did. ( )
  Nemorn | Jun 4, 2018 |
For many, William Wordsworth’s definition of poetry, included in his Preface to Lyrical Ballads, provides a clear description of that literary form: “poetry is the spontaneous overflow of powerful feelings: it takes its origin from emotion recollected in tranquility.” The definition of the novel, however—a much newer literary form—remains in dispute. Its roots in romance, its alleged corrupting influence, its focus on the fictional, its metamorphosis from the fanciful to the realistic to the postmodern, its malleable chronology, and its potential for multiple narrative perspectives (not all of which are equally reliable) all conspire to create a rather unstable and inchoate literary form. Many great novelists—from Hawthorne and Melville to Faulkner and Morrison—have experimented with the form in endless contemplation of its promise and its purpose. With Atonement, Ian McEwan joins their ranks.

What begins as a rather straightforward third-person story informed by numerous limited narrative perspectives evolves into a meditation on the use and usefulness of the novel as a form. The first half of Atonement take place on an unbearably hot day in the British countryside as the Tallis family gathers for dinner. The attendees include mother Emily, son Leon, elder daughter Cecilia, younger daughter Briony, cousins Lola, Pierrot, and Jackson, Leon’s friend Paul Marshall, and Robbie Turner, the son of one of the Tallis family’s domestic employees. McEwan chronicles the day in painstaking detail, the climax of which is a heinous act—the consequences of which affect everyone present.

The remainder of Atonement examines the aftermath of that act against the backdrop of World War II. No brief review can do justice to McEwan’s narrative, but suffice it to say that the novel tells a compelling tale of attempted atonement as it dissects the very nature of the novel as a literary form. Part romantic, part realistic, part naturalistic, part postmodern, Atonement invites us to consider the very reasons why we write and read novels. ( )
  jimrgill | May 10, 2018 |
This book was so amazing to me. It was written beautifully, and it was all about writing and story-telling and love, and I was interested from the get-go. It was a four-star book from the start. And then the ending came, and it absolutely - Well, I won't say another thing. Read it, and you might understand. ( )
  UDT | May 1, 2018 |
Showing 1-5 of 525 (next | show all)
McEwan is technically at the height of his powers, and can do more or less anything he likes with the novel form. He shows this fact off in the first section of Atonement, in which he does one of the hardest things a good writer can do: engrossingly, sustainedly, and convincingly impersonate a bad one.
added by jburlinson | editNew York Review of Books, John Lanchester (pay site) (Apr 11, 2002)
 
McEwan is crafty. Even as he shows us the damages of story-telling, he demonstrates its beguilements on every page. Atonement is full of timeworn literary contrivances--an English country house, lovers from different classes, an intercepted letter--rendered with the delicately crafted understanding of E.M. Forster.
added by Shortride | editTime, Richard Lacayo (Mar 25, 2002)
 
If it's plot, suspense and a Bergsonian sensitivity to the intricacies of individual consciousnesses you want, then McEwan is your man and ''Atonement'' your novel. It is his most complete and compassionate work to date.
 
Ian McEwan's remarkable new novel ''Atonement'' is a love story, a war story and a story about the destructive powers of the imagination. It is also a novel that takes all of the author's perennial themes -- dealing with the hazards of innocence, the hold of time past over time present and the intrusion of evil into ordinary lives -- and orchestrates them into a symphonic work that is every bit as affecting as it is gripping. It is, in short, a tour de force.
 
Ian McEwan’s new novel, which strikes me as easily his finest, has a frame that is properly hinged and jointed and apt for the conduct of the ‘march of action’, which James described as ‘the only thing that really, for me at least, will produire L’OEUVRE’.
 

» Add other authors (40 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Ian McEwanprimary authorall editionscalculated
Basso, SusannaTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Boyd, CaroleNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Tanner, JillReadersecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Verhoef, RienTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Zulaika, JaimeTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed

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Epigraph
"Dear Miss Morland, consider the dreadful nature of the suspicions you have entertained. What have you been judging from? Remember the country and the age in which we live. Remember that we are English: that we are Christians. Consult your own understanding, your own sense of the probable, your own observation of what is passing around you. Does our education prepare us for such atrocities? Do our laws connive at them? Could they be perpetrated without being known in a country like this, where social and literary intercourse is on such a footing, where every man is surrounded by a neighbourhood of voluntary spies, and where roads and newspapers lay everything open? Dearest Miss Morland, what ideas have you been admitting?"
    They had reached the end of the gallery; and with tears of shame she ran off to her own room.
Jane Austen, Northanger Abbey
Dedication
To Annalena
First words
The play – for which Briony had designed posters, programs and tickets, constructed the sales booth out of a folding screen tipped on its side, and lined the collection box in red crepe paper – was written by her in a two-day tempest of composition, causing her to miss a breakfast and a lunch.
Quotations
Novels and movies, being relentlessly modern, propel you forwards or backwards through time, through days, years or even generations. But to do its noticing and judging, poetry balances itself on the pinprick of the moment. Slowing down, stopping yourself completely, to read and understand a poem is like trying to acquire an old-fashioned skill like drystone walling or trout tickling.
How much growing up do you need to do?
It wasn’t only wickedness and scheming that made people unhappy, it was confusion and misunderstanding; above all, it was the failure to grasp the simple truth that other people are as real as you.
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Wikipedia in English (1)

Book description
Briony’s tale begins with her restless and excited preparations for a play she had proudly written for her visiting older brother. The young girl's childish anxieties induce a light and amusing atmosphere for the story’s first few scenes. But soon enough, a series of baffling events takes place before Briony’s eyes and sets of her wildly-imaginative mind to believe a new story of her own creation. Coerced by her own impetuous sense of duty, she soon commits a “crime” that forever changes the lives of people around her, as well as her own. This highly-praised novel from Ian McEwan is no more of a love story than it is a contemplative essay on the rapturous highs and atrocious lows of our frail human existence.
Haiku summary

Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 038572179X, Paperback)

Ian McEwan's Booker Prize-nominated Atonement is his first novel since Amsterdam took home the prize in 1998. But while Amsterdam was a slim, sleek piece, Atonement is a more sturdy, more ambitious work, allowing McEwan more room to play, think, and experiment.

We meet 13-year-old Briony Tallis in the summer of 1935, as she attempts to stage a production of her new drama "The Trials of Arabella" to welcome home her older, idolized brother Leon. But she soon discovers that her cousins, the glamorous Lola and the twin boys Jackson and Pierrot, aren't up to the task, and directorial ambitions are abandoned as more interesting prospects of preoccupation come onto the scene. The charlady's son, Robbie Turner, appears to be forcing Briony's sister Cecilia to strip in the fountain and sends her obscene letters; Leon has brought home a dim chocolate magnate keen for a war to promote his new "Army Ammo" chocolate bar; and upstairs, Briony's migraine-stricken mother Emily keeps tabs on the house from her bed. Soon, secrets emerge that change the lives of everyone present....

The interwar, upper-middle-class setting of the book's long, masterfully sustained opening section might recall Virginia Woolf or Henry Green, but as we move forward--eventually to the turn of the 21st century--the novel's central concerns emerge, and McEwan's voice becomes clear, even personal. For at heart, Atonement is about the pleasures, pains, and dangers of writing, and perhaps even more, about the challenge of controlling what readers make of your writing. McEwan shouldn't have any doubts about readers of Atonement: this is a thoughtful, provocative, and at times moving book that will have readers applauding. --Alan Stewart, Amazon.co.uk

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:06:21 -0400)

(see all 6 descriptions)

Imaginative thirteen-year-old Briony Tallis, misinterpreting a scene between her older sister Cecilia and Robbie Turner, the housekeeper's son, later accuses Robbie of a crime she has no proof he committed and spends years trying to atone for her actions.… (more)

» see all 21 descriptions

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