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Espiazione by Ian McEwan
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Espiazione (original 2001; edition 2005)

by Ian McEwan

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingConversations / Mentions
20,19051777 (3.93)1 / 998
Espiazione è un romanzo di sentimenti, ancora prima che di persone, di fatti e di luoghi. I sentimenti sono assoluti e crudi, come dovrebbero essere e quando l'amore è rappresentato è travolgente, così come la gelosia e la coggiutaggine infantili che sono il motore dell'intera triste vicenda.
La penna di McEwan è elegante, crea un'atmosfera palpabile e tratteggia scenari e vicende umane sin troppo verosimili. Come nella realtà, in Espiazione la vita non è un idillio. C'è la guerra a separare le persone e soprattutto c'è il risentimento e il senso di colpa a divedere due sorelle.
Briony porta il peso di una colpa per cui non potrà mai avere perdono. Ma avendo il dono della scrittura le viene data facoltà di fare ammenda per il proprio peccato, in un modo inaspettato che sarà appannaggio solo di chi concluderà il romanzo.
McEwan divide il romanzo in quattro parti (tre parti e un epilogo). La prima occupa la prima metà del libro ed è, per quanto fondamentale, la meno incisiva. Bellissima la seconda parte che rappresenta la guerra dal punto di vista di una manciata di soldati e non ammantata di risvolti pattriottici, ma vista da un punto di vista meramente umano. In questa vediamo lo svolgersi, tramite flashback della vera e propria storia d'amore. Nella terza parte attraverso gli occhi di una Briony diciotenne si giunge alla conclusione del racconto, del percorso di espiazione di una giovane donna che ha capito l'errore sciocco commesso durante l'infanzia ma che sa che di aver perduto per sempre una sorella.
In realtà poi l'epilogo ci riporta nuovamente alla cruda realtà che non è di certo preferibile ad una versione più edificante sebbene meno veritiera. ( )
  Zeruhur | May 26, 2012 |
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I’m a little unsure how to review this one. I was bored through the first half of the book, but then enjoyed the second half and feel that the slow first half was necessary to set up all these characters for the second half. The story follows the lives of a wealthy family and their housekeeper’s son, a crime reported by a child that she does not fully understand, and it’s effects on all their lives. The writing was very lyrical and well done, and I wanted to keep reading. But at the end of the day, I found it hard to relate to these characters. So it was half successful for me I’d say. ( )
  janemarieprice | Apr 19, 2016 |
When I watched the movie, several years ago, I wailed like a small child. The book is also deeply emotional and moving. ( )
  Becky_McKenna | Mar 30, 2016 |
Beautiful writing, but a plodding story. Hard to stick with. ( )
  ndpmcIntosh | Mar 21, 2016 |
SPOILERS THROUGHOUT.

This is probably the worst book I have ever read.

I've read some fairly bad books - I've read Twilight - but this was something else. This was awful. Everything about it, from beginning to end, was just very, very, inexcusably bad.

Let's take the first part - the part where all the action happens. Sort of. Except for the fact that nothing happens for seven chapters, aside from McEwan's (OR IS IT?) endless descriptions of every minute detail of everything in the house or adjacent to the house or that once rubbed shoulders with something twice-removed from the house. His prose is horrible, cloying, droning, and ultimately, boring. I love wordy books, I love the scenery that words can construct. This didn't work for me. Also, was it hot day? Did he ever mention it was a hot day? I THINK HE MIGHT JUST HAVE.

Then, there's the characters. God how I hate every single one of them. They're either directly, obviously hateful (Lola, Briony, Paul Marshall and his rapist's moustache (WHY DIDN'T ANYONE SEE IT COMING?), Emily) or they're just stupid (Cecelia and Robbie, mainly). Each and every single one of them is a cliche, and by the point it came to the big, terrible, awful thing which was to happen to them, I had simply ceased to care. Okay, so we know Robbie's not a rapist. Big deal. The whole thing feels horribly contrived taken at face value - taken in the context of what is learned later in the book, I didn't find any greater meaning behind this.

The pacing is all off, too. I think the idea was to create suspense. This did not happen. By about Chapter Ten I was seriously considering chucking the whole thing, but I pressed on.

Part Two is, if possible, worse than Part One. Here is where Ian McEwan regurgitates everything he ever possibly knew about WWII. Firstly, it's all over the place, jumping from time period to time period in a completely unclear manner. Secondly, again, it's boring. Part Three is just cringeworthy. BRIONY BECOMES A NURSE MAYBE THIS MAKES HER A GOOD PERSON GUYS. I just don't see what we're supposed to care about, here... so I'm just going to skip to the end.

So, what WAS the point? Briony? Briony who turns out in the last part to have been narrating the whole thing? Is this in fact part of her journey? What flaming journey? She's gone from being a terrible author with issues telling the difference between fantasy and reality to... what? She's still a terrible author! She's still got horrible issues! Who the hell cares by this point? McEwan's grasp of characterisation is tenuous at best. The characters, as seen through the eyes of Briony, are one-note caricatures. It doesn't matter if this is, in fact, the point - it doesn't make it a good device. I can get a picture of them as people, the problem is that they're not interesting people and they're certainly impossible to care about. I read this directly after reading Herzog, and perhaps, given the richness of the characterisation in that, I am being too harsh on this book. Can't all be astronauts! However, the idea that somehow it's excusable that the writing in this book is so bad because it's being seen through the eyes of this unreliable, thirteen-year old narrator, is ridiculous. If that is supposed to be the point, it was very badly executed. Surely if the point is supposed to be that Briony has grown up an accepted what she's done, then she would be able to see the whole situation more clearly, and write a better book? And if she hasn't, then, as I said before, she hasn't really gone on a journey in the book, and all anyone learns from the book is that there are horrible, twisted people in the world - HEY GUYS, I THINK WE GOT THAT MEMO.

This has turned into a ramble. I do HAVE coherent thoughts on this book, but every time I start typing I get lost in a sea of completely anger that this utter inanity ever, ever became successful. It's very, very rare that I dislike a book this much. I can usually find positives to say about almost anything. I can't with this - it had no redeeming features at all.

Oh no, wait, it had one. "I WANT TO THANK YOU FOR SAVING MY LIFE. I WILL BE ETERNALLY GRATEFUL TO YOU."

AHAHAHAHA.

Ian McEwan clearly owes Toy Story a debt (btw, those films? WAY BETTER WRITING.) ( )
  thebookmagpie | Mar 13, 2016 |
Lives will be changed in one day, and it will take a lifetime to atone them... A novel in whitch characters exists only through their thoughts. No one's to blame but everyone is guilty. All the emotions people are so familiar with... And a love that nothing could destroy. ( )
  Glaucialm | Feb 18, 2016 |
WARNING! Spoiler follows!
Although a cleverly, well-written book, it is not destined to become a favorite. The story tells of a youthful lie that destroys lives and is never truly rectified. Worse, although the "liar" spends her life trying to achieve atonement for this action, in the end, she completely escapes by virtue of the fact that she is diagnosed with a form of alzheimer's so ultimately will have no memory of the evil she wrought. ( )
  Oodles | Feb 16, 2016 |
I'm finding it hard to review this book, as I'm torn over how I feel about it.

Told in 4 parts, Atonement is a cleverly construed idea of how a young teenager's total misunderstanding of a chain of adult events leads to a family being split apart.

It ticked a lot of my reading boxes - a setting that shifted from a big English country house to the Dunkirk retreat and then to the London hospital war effort, all nicely tied together by the huge sense of loss affecting all the characters on the back of the child's error of judgement. A little bit Downton Abbey meets Brideshead Revisted, I definitely enjoyed it, but I can't help feeling a little bit disappointed by it.

The second half of the book was excellent - a definite page turner with plenty to keep the reader sitting up into the wee small hours to finish it. But the first part of the book I found slow going. It took far too long to get to the main event of the novel, and I was well over 100 pages in before I started to care about the storyline and commit myself to finishing it. At the beginning the prose seemed unnecessarily dense and over descriptive, which I haven't found in the other McEwan novels I've read, and rather than build up suspense it just dragged on too much and felt boring in parts.

If I was scoring this book on parts 2-3 it would be 4 stars plus, but part 1 was at least 50 pages too long, and part 4 felt a little rushed.

3.5 stars - worth a read, but not destined for this year's hot list. ( )
  AlisonY | Feb 15, 2016 |
Atonement by Ian McEwan

★ ★ ★

I've been told that if you can get through the first part of this book, the second part is much more interesting. And I can see why. I listened to the audio of Atonement and I believe it was only due to the wonderful narration that I was able to get through the first half, which I felt dragged a bit. The second part was more intriguing, it had the ability to keep my attention but by then it felt like too little, too late. I know a lot of people that like this book and I can see the beauty in it and understand it's popularity but I guess it just wasn't the book for me. I didn't really care for most of the characters and the author was definitely a bit too wordy for my liking. I don't do audio books often but this is one I have to give kudos to. I would have never made it through this book if it wasn't for the audio. A good book but nothing special to me. ( )
  UberButter | Feb 9, 2016 |

Originally posted here

This is quite the heavy read. After watching the film when it was released, I was so emotionally moved. I was not sure reading the book afterwards would add anything I didn't know already. I was wrong, the book does differ from the film and I am glad I decided to read it.

Atonement is essentially about a misunderstanding. A series of interconnected events lead a young girl, Briony Tallis, to give false evidence that she believes to be true. The ripple effect of the consequences of Briony's actions is then examined throughout the entire book. It's a moving and emotional story.

The best thing about Atonement is the detail, there are lots of layers to the story that I don't think could be gleaned from anywhere else but the book. The first half of the book is structured traditionally, each chapter focusing on a different point of view. The second half has a much looser structure and was the most enjoyable to read for me.

I do think the finale is something the film handled much better then the book in my opinion. I was a sobbing mess at the end of the film when it came to the final confession. The book sort of glosses over it and it didn't give the same emotional punch. Nonetheless, the book is worth reading and savouring as it is truly brilliant. ( )
  4everfanatical | Feb 8, 2016 |
A brilliantly stunning novel! It takes time to get into the story, but the reward for this perseverance is breath-taking. ( )
  tashlyn88 | Feb 5, 2016 |
A great book, one of the most interesting and depressing novels I ever read. Unfortunately I made the mistake of watching the movie first (not knowing about this book at that time), which spoiled part of the novel and especially the ending for me. That's the reason for changing the rating from 4 stars to 5, adding this book to my alltime favourites.

I was drawn into the book right from the beginning - the pre-war setting with its lush and carefree atmosphere, spoiled by the events during the course of a day, then the darker and more brutal scenery during the war - the author did a great job here.
The characters were great as well. The motivation for their deeds (and for the things they didn't do) were understandable and there was a lot of character development. The actions that seemed to be out of character were explained by the ending. Going into depth more would spoil the book for those of my friends who might be planning to read it (if they haven't read a synopsis somewhere else or seen the film).

I still sometimes think about some of the questions the book posed for me. Is there really a thing like atonement? Is it possible to forgive someone who spoiled the entire lifes of other persons, even if she did it without fully understanding what she was doing? A really good book - and definately on my list to reread. ( )
  Ellemir | Feb 1, 2016 |
SPOILERS THROUGHOUT.

This is probably the worst book I have ever read.

I've read some fairly bad books - I've read Twilight - but this was something else. This was awful. Everything about it, from beginning to end, was just very, very, inexcusably bad.

Let's take the first part - the part where all the action happens. Sort of. Except for the fact that nothing happens for seven chapters, aside from McEwan's (OR IS IT?) endless descriptions of every minute detail of everything in the house or adjacent to the house or that once rubbed shoulders with something twice-removed from the house. His prose is horrible, cloying, droning, and ultimately, boring. I love wordy books, I love the scenery that words can construct. This didn't work for me. Also, was it hot day? Did he ever mention it was a hot day? I THINK HE MIGHT JUST HAVE.

Then, there's the characters. God how I hate every single one of them. They're either directly, obviously hateful (Lola, Briony, Paul Marshall and his rapist's moustache (WHY DIDN'T ANYONE SEE IT COMING?), Emily) or they're just stupid (Cecelia and Robbie, mainly). Each and every single one of them is a cliche, and by the point it came to the big, terrible, awful thing which was to happen to them, I had simply ceased to care. Okay, so we know Robbie's not a rapist. Big deal. The whole thing feels horribly contrived taken at face value - taken in the context of what is learned later in the book, I didn't find any greater meaning behind this.

The pacing is all off, too. I think the idea was to create suspense. This did not happen. By about Chapter Ten I was seriously considering chucking the whole thing, but I pressed on.

Part Two is, if possible, worse than Part One. Here is where Ian McEwan regurgitates everything he ever possibly knew about WWII. Firstly, it's all over the place, jumping from time period to time period in a completely unclear manner. Secondly, again, it's boring. Part Three is just cringeworthy. BRIONY BECOMES A NURSE MAYBE THIS MAKES HER A GOOD PERSON GUYS. I just don't see what we're supposed to care about, here... so I'm just going to skip to the end.

So, what WAS the point? Briony? Briony who turns out in the last part to have been narrating the whole thing? Is this in fact part of her journey? What flaming journey? She's gone from being a terrible author with issues telling the difference between fantasy and reality to... what? She's still a terrible author! She's still got horrible issues! Who the hell cares by this point? McEwan's grasp of characterisation is tenuous at best. The characters, as seen through the eyes of Briony, are one-note caricatures. It doesn't matter if this is, in fact, the point - it doesn't make it a good device. I can get a picture of them as people, the problem is that they're not interesting people and they're certainly impossible to care about. I read this directly after reading Herzog, and perhaps, given the richness of the characterisation in that, I am being too harsh on this book. Can't all be astronauts! However, the idea that somehow it's excusable that the writing in this book is so bad because it's being seen through the eyes of this unreliable, thirteen-year old narrator, is ridiculous. If that is supposed to be the point, it was very badly executed. Surely if the point is supposed to be that Briony has grown up an accepted what she's done, then she would be able to see the whole situation more clearly, and write a better book? And if she hasn't, then, as I said before, she hasn't really gone on a journey in the book, and all anyone learns from the book is that there are horrible, twisted people in the world - HEY GUYS, I THINK WE GOT THAT MEMO.

This has turned into a ramble. I do HAVE coherent thoughts on this book, but every time I start typing I get lost in a sea of completely anger that this utter inanity ever, ever became successful. It's very, very rare that I dislike a book this much. I can usually find positives to say about almost anything. I can't with this - it had no redeeming features at all.

Oh no, wait, it had one. "I WANT TO THANK YOU FOR SAVING MY LIFE. I WILL BE ETERNALLY GRATEFUL TO YOU."

AHAHAHAHA.

Ian McEwan clearly owes Toy Story a debt (btw, those films? WAY BETTER WRITING.) ( )
  hoegbottom | Jan 30, 2016 |
SPOILERS THROUGHOUT.

This is probably the worst book I have ever read.

I've read some fairly bad books - I've read Twilight - but this was something else. This was awful. Everything about it, from beginning to end, was just very, very, inexcusably bad.

Let's take the first part - the part where all the action happens. Sort of. Except for the fact that nothing happens for seven chapters, aside from McEwan's (OR IS IT?) endless descriptions of every minute detail of everything in the house or adjacent to the house or that once rubbed shoulders with something twice-removed from the house. His prose is horrible, cloying, droning, and ultimately, boring. I love wordy books, I love the scenery that words can construct. This didn't work for me. Also, was it hot day? Did he ever mention it was a hot day? I THINK HE MIGHT JUST HAVE.

Then, there's the characters. God how I hate every single one of them. They're either directly, obviously hateful (Lola, Briony, Paul Marshall and his rapist's moustache (WHY DIDN'T ANYONE SEE IT COMING?), Emily) or they're just stupid (Cecelia and Robbie, mainly). Each and every single one of them is a cliche, and by the point it came to the big, terrible, awful thing which was to happen to them, I had simply ceased to care. Okay, so we know Robbie's not a rapist. Big deal. The whole thing feels horribly contrived taken at face value - taken in the context of what is learned later in the book, I didn't find any greater meaning behind this.

The pacing is all off, too. I think the idea was to create suspense. This did not happen. By about Chapter Ten I was seriously considering chucking the whole thing, but I pressed on.

Part Two is, if possible, worse than Part One. Here is where Ian McEwan regurgitates everything he ever possibly knew about WWII. Firstly, it's all over the place, jumping from time period to time period in a completely unclear manner. Secondly, again, it's boring. Part Three is just cringeworthy. BRIONY BECOMES A NURSE MAYBE THIS MAKES HER A GOOD PERSON GUYS. I just don't see what we're supposed to care about, here... so I'm just going to skip to the end.

So, what WAS the point? Briony? Briony who turns out in the last part to have been narrating the whole thing? Is this in fact part of her journey? What flaming journey? She's gone from being a terrible author with issues telling the difference between fantasy and reality to... what? She's still a terrible author! She's still got horrible issues! Who the hell cares by this point? McEwan's grasp of characterisation is tenuous at best. The characters, as seen through the eyes of Briony, are one-note caricatures. It doesn't matter if this is, in fact, the point - it doesn't make it a good device. I can get a picture of them as people, the problem is that they're not interesting people and they're certainly impossible to care about. I read this directly after reading Herzog, and perhaps, given the richness of the characterisation in that, I am being too harsh on this book. Can't all be astronauts! However, the idea that somehow it's excusable that the writing in this book is so bad because it's being seen through the eyes of this unreliable, thirteen-year old narrator, is ridiculous. If that is supposed to be the point, it was very badly executed. Surely if the point is supposed to be that Briony has grown up an accepted what she's done, then she would be able to see the whole situation more clearly, and write a better book? And if she hasn't, then, as I said before, she hasn't really gone on a journey in the book, and all anyone learns from the book is that there are horrible, twisted people in the world - HEY GUYS, I THINK WE GOT THAT MEMO.

This has turned into a ramble. I do HAVE coherent thoughts on this book, but every time I start typing I get lost in a sea of completely anger that this utter inanity ever, ever became successful. It's very, very rare that I dislike a book this much. I can usually find positives to say about almost anything. I can't with this - it had no redeeming features at all.

Oh no, wait, it had one. "I WANT TO THANK YOU FOR SAVING MY LIFE. I WILL BE ETERNALLY GRATEFUL TO YOU."

AHAHAHAHA.

Ian McEwan clearly owes Toy Story a debt (btw, those films? WAY BETTER WRITING.) ( )
  hoegbottom | Jan 30, 2016 |
At the age of 13, aspiring writer Briony Tallis has a play in mind to present to friends and family when her cousins come from the north. When she sees something between her older sister Cecilia and Robbie Turner, the young man whom her father is putting through college and the son of their washerwoman, her story about what happened changes their lives forever.

This is the second time I read Atonement, a book I disliked the first time around and would never have picked up again if we had not chosen it for book group. Though it was eight years ago and I was not reviewing every book I read at the time, vivid images from the story stayed in my mind, and the anger and betrayal I felt at the end of the story stayed with me a long time afterwards. I picked it up again with reluctance. Because I knew the story, however, I could look at it with new eyes. I noticed a lot more what the author was doing playing with narrative and point of view, symmetry, and the idea that real life is so much more messy than what we read in books. His writing is exquisite, with an ear for language and description that took my breath away at times and had me reading slowly - less out of reluctance than having to follow the rhythm he set for the story. Having World War 2 as a setting is no accident, either, as it is a backdrop for the individual, human story of Briony and her unforgivable ignorance. What ignorance did people have in allowing Hitler as much freedom as he had in the years leading up to the war? And how did we rewrite the story to sound better, to make us less culpable? Does silence implicate someone as much as willful deceit? These are some of the very challenging human questions the story poses, and we are not given any easy answers. ( )
  bell7 | Jan 19, 2016 |
A young girl is witness to an act that she does not understand and blames the wrong man for a crime. This ends up ruining his life and affecting her whole family, for the worse. And even though I think I wasn't in the right frame of mind for this book at this time, I am looking forward to watching the movie. ( )
  TerriS | Jan 17, 2016 |
I was pleasantly surprised by how good this was. If you read the back of the book, you know it's about a lifetime of atonement for a crime, but the nature of that crime is surprising. I'd definitely recommend this one. ( )
  AmandaL. | Jan 16, 2016 |
This is a beautifully written book. I was completely drawn into the story and the characters. ( )
  Melissa_J | Jan 16, 2016 |
The hot English summer of 1935 shimmered with the potential for tragedy. There were rumblings of another war with Germany, a war that would eventually bring devestation to England. Yet there was another, deeper tragedy that affected the sprawling country home of the Tallis family. Young Briony is an imaginative girl, with a flair for writing. She witnesses from her window and shared moment between her sister and her father's protege, the son of their char lady. With her adolescent mind, she is unable to fully understand what it is that she observes and begins to twist it into something more sinister. Later that day, she bears witness to events that are even further outside her comprehension, and when an unspeakable crime is perpetrated, she lays the guilt at the feet of the young man. These accussations of a confused girl will destroy her family and leave her spending the rest of her life trying to set right in the only way that she able.

Rather than read the print, I listened to an audio production of this brilliant novel, as read by Jill Tanner. I found it nearly impossible to put down, always wanting to know what would happen next, what would happen of the young lovers, how Briony would attempt in her manner to set things right. At the novel's close I was not entirely surprised, yet it wasn't exactly expected either. Until the conclusion I would have called this a 4 star novel, but the final section of the novel was perfectly done. I am relieved that I have not yet seen the movie to ruin it for me.

This was my first McEwan novel, and I found it to be beautifully done. The flow of the words and the narrative were exceptional, and I was able to clearly picture the story as it unfolded. The reader, while not exceptional, did a fine job and I wouldn't object to listening to another novel she has recorded. ( )
  Mootastic1 | Jan 15, 2016 |
4.5 stars
How do you make amends for a terrible mistake you made as a child? That is the central question at the heart of Atonement by McEwan. After 13 year-old Briony witnesses an event she is too young to understand, the action she takes creates far-reaching effects on the lives of her family and others around her. The book is told in three parts plus a surprising coda. Part one covers events before the life-changing incident, whereas parts 2 & 3 cover how the characters’ lives unfolded after these events (if I’m being cryptic, it’s only in an attempt to avoid giving too much away). The events in the coda are surprising and raise questions about fact and fiction, reality and fantasy. It is a novel about love, forgiveness, and redemption.

I really enjoyed this book. It was beautifully written and psychologically complex. Although it did start off quite slowly, it builds quickly after the incident and the slow start helps readers appreciate the drastic way that the characters’ lives changed. I appreciated the fact that the author didn’t take the easy way out by providing us with a perfectly polished ending where everything works out perfectly. Rather, he highlighted the psychological complexity that would most certainly be involved if such events were to occur. In addition, the details within the story are often important. For example, the plot of the play Briony writes as a child becomes meaningful later in the book. In addition the change in style between parts one and 2-3 reflect the stark contrast between fantasy and escapism on the one hand and the start reality of events on the other hand.

The main reason I hesitate to give it 5 stars is because I like there was some emotional link missing – one that is hard for me to describe. The writing at times seemed emotionally detached for such a potentially emotionally evocative scenario and perhaps I felt surprised that it did not elicit more of an emotional connection for me. For example, I felt empathy for the characters but never really felt emotionally connected to them. Thus, the book evoked many thoughts for me but evoked fewer emotional reactions.

In sum, it was a beautifully written and clever novel that makes you think about the destructive powers of imagination and fantasy and limits of forgiveness.

Quotes:
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.

The cost of oblivious daydreaming was always this moment of return, the realignment with what had been before and now seemed a little worse.

How guilt refined the methods of self-torture, threading the beads of detail into an eternal loop, a rosary to be fingered for a lifetime.
Wasn't writing a kind of soaring, an achievable form of flight, of fancy, of the imagination?
( )
  JenPrim | Jan 15, 2016 |
I quite liked this by the end but really really struggled with the first half. I wanted to strangle half the characters and while I knew it was important to get through it, I found it very hard going. The numerous voices and lack of actual action bored me and I found myself nearly shouting at the book that I just didn't care whether Emily was sensing her way around the house and would you please just get a move on!
Saying that, from Part 2 onwards I was much more gripped: I really loved the Second World War section and while I still didn't feel that attached to Robbie, some of the descriptions totally put you into the scene. The section from Briony's perspective was also good - I think I much preferred the separate sections with separate voices and found the first too confusing. I began to actually worry about Robbie and Cecilia, although I still didn't care much for Briony (which is what I feel you are meant to think).
I don't think I will be recommending this book to many people, but that said, I have read far worse and if you can get through the first part, then it is worth it. ( )
  sashinka | Jan 14, 2016 |
How can you atone for a mistake which so drastically alters someone’s life?

13-year-old Briony Tallis aspires to being a writer. She spends her days writing romances, adventures, and plays; her family encourages these efforts. On a summer day in 1935, at her family estate, she witnesses a part of scene between her older sister, Cecilia, and Robbie Turner, the son of a servant, and her imagination takes off. Additional happenings in the house that same day, including her own snooping, result in a leap of logic and she accuses Robbie of a terrible crime. Once the attentions of the adults and police are focused on her, she feels compelled to complete her story – she “knows” Robbie did it and so comes forth as an eye witness. Her “confident” testimony is what convicts him despite the absence of evidence. This is her crime, whose repercussions the book follows through World War II and beyond, and for which Briony will spend her life trying to atone.

This is a complex novel that explores issues of class, guilt, love, war and forgiveness. The reader knows this is an injustice and can only hope for an eventual resolution. I was horrified that no one took a good look at the situation and saw the obvious flaws in this young girl’s testimony. But then, she was an upper class young lady of a fine family, and he was the strong laborer trying to “get above his station.” Cecilia, in my opinion, is equally to blame for locking herself in her room at the outset and not coming forward until it is too late to save Robbie. She also atones; she completely cuts herself off from her family and continuously works to try to reverse the damage. Robbie is left to try to piece together some semblance of a life; his service during WW 2 is in part an effort to expunge his record.

Jill Tanner’s performance of this audio book is wonderful. She’s able to express the boredom and outrage of the young teen Briony, the passion and excitement of Cecilia, the anxiety and confusion of Pierrot and Jackson, the petulance and superiority of Lola, and the hope and determination of Robbie.


The issue of class is further evident because while Cecilia firmly believes that Robbie had nothing to do with the attack on Lola, she automatically focuses her attentions on Danny Hardman, a lad from the village. She never suspects Paul Marshall … though it was HE who had scratches on his face from an earlier attempt on Lola. Even though Lola had to seek treatment for cuts and bruises earlier in the day (she blamed her younger twin brothers), no one seemed to put two and two together. Paul, after all, was the scion of a wealthy family, a college man, and a good friend of Leon Tallis. And later in life when Briony wants to tell the “real” story, she is advised against doing so because surely the Marshalls would sue her for libel. Yes, Lola marries her rapist and is now the wealthy wife who, along with her husband, supports many worthy charities. Their “class” insulates them from scrutiny.

( )
  BookConcierge | Jan 13, 2016 |
I made sure to read it before watching the movie - I am glad I did. I didn't see "it" coming, so it was a great feeling for me to react the way I believe the author intended me to at that moment. I went back over the ending more than once to really grasp what it was I was being told because. ( )
  ER1116 | Jan 13, 2016 |
Well, that was depressing. Is Ian McEwan the natural successor to [a: Thomas Hardy|15905|Thomas Hardy|https://d.gr-assets.com/authors/1429946281p2/15905.jpg]? I have to confess I knew nothing about Atonement except that the film adaptation came out a few years ago (if eight qualifies as a few). It did receive glowing reviews but did not pique my interest much, I filed it away in my head as “may be if it comes on telly”. However, I literally* stumbled on the audiobook on Youtube and decided to give it a listen (in numerous sessions as it is almost 6 hours long). The audiobook is beautifully narrated by Isla Blair but it almost ruined the original book due to lack of chapters and parts indications that you get in most audiobooks. What this means is that it is read in one massive narrative lump without any clear divisions to indicate changes of scene, time periods, or switches in narrative points of view. These things can be figured out but it makes for a messy narrative, I will have to buy the printed book for a reread later. (The print version is clearly organized into chapters and major parts. I checked).

Any way, enough of the story filtered through to me to become intrigued. Here is a story about Briony, a thirteen year old girl who wrongly accused a man of raping her cousin, leading to his arrest and several years of imprisonment. As she grows into adulthood it begins to dawn on her that she may have been mistaken, by the age of eighteen she wants to actively set things right. Thanks to the confusing audiobook (dis)organization the story did not have much as an impact on me as it should have done. I was not able to empathize with the characters as I would need to do in order for the story to resonate. This is not Ian McEwan’s fault, the book is superbly written and the characters well drawn, it is more like a technical problem caused by the audiobook. Six hours seem like a long running time compared to movies but the book is 351 pages long and it would take me at least a week to read (allowing time for getting on with my life). Consequently I felt the book whizzed by me and I was just getting into end when it ends!

Still, I did find the storyline to be intriguing and book emotionally charged, especially in a poignant confrontation scene between the adult Briony and the wrongfully imprisoned Robbie Turner. Though I do find it a bit odd that a thirteen year old girl’s accusation carries so much weight given that the evidence against the man seems to be very circumstantial. The epilogue is quite the twist, very well played by McEwan. Had me reeling a little bit. So a great story somewhat spoiled (for me) by the confusing audiobook structure (not Ms. Isla Blair’s fault I suspect).

In all fairness I would rate it as follows:

4 stars for the book (could be 5 after a proper reread).
2 stars for the audiobook (they removed book's structure of chapters and parts).
5 stars for Isla Blair’s reading.
_________________________________

* I was seated at the time. ( )
  apatt | Dec 26, 2015 |
Koskettava tarina väärinkäsitysten ja niitä seuraavien valheiden kohtalokkaista seurauksista. Kirja pitää näpeissään alusta aina vihoviimeisille sivuille asti, ja McEwanin tarinankerronta on ehdottomasti tässä parhaimmillaan. Lapsuuden naiivius on suorastaan käsinkosketeltavaa, ja kirja onnistuu kasvattamaan jännitystä aina loppuratkaisuun asti. ( )
  MariaBrandybuck | Dec 7, 2015 |
I started reading this book with a lot of expectations since i found out that it had received a lot awards.....The first part of the book where the author is setting up the plot grips you...and you cannot wait to know more after the crime.... however this is were the book disappoints you... the author leaps 3 years forward in time without as mush as little reference to what happened in those three years... its not so difficult to guess who the culprit is actually. I was not rooting for a happy ending.... and one shouldn't expect one.

Sadly the book has a disjointed plot where the story jumps from one time to other abruptly and leaves the reader asking for more details of the lives of the character. I felt to grasp the impact it should have left on the lives of all the characters especially Briony since the author has left most of it to the reader's imagination.

The prose of the book is excellent. However, the author fails to keep the reader interested after the initial plot and the story just falls apart.

( )
  meetpraj | Nov 25, 2015 |
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