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by Ian McEwan
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I read a lot of books in my third year of University. The combination of having very long reading lists, plus a real love for the topic, even though I was working towards a deadline, meant that I did a lot of reading for a lot of classes. One particular class, ‘Contemporary British Fiction’ involved a 60-book long reading list. We weren’t required to read every book on the list, but we were required to read at least 10 of them. I’ve written book reviews for most of the books I read on that list, but there are some left.
I had heard of this book before; a lot of my fellow classmates had read it before me, or had watched the movie. I hadn’t done either before this class, but I did already own the book. I dived into it in preparation for this class and was not disappointed.
Atonement is the story of Briony, a young girl with a talent for writing. Her older sister, Cecilia, and the ground keeper’s son, Robbie, have some kind of romance going on that escalates at the beginning of the novel. Briony, seeing their secret rendezvous, assumes that Robbie forced himself on her and gets him arrested and taken away. The story takes place over several years, following Robbie, Briony and Cecilia as they reconvene, reconcile, and try to make amends for everything that happened during the separation. All this, by the way, happens to the backdrop of World War Two.
The novel explores many different themes which is probably why I like it so much as a story. It looks at the idea of rape and compliance, of truth and reality, of memory and relationships, of war, of childhood innocence, and of accepting the past. As the book goes on, you realize that the story, at the end of the day, is all about Briony trying to come to terms with how she innocently, unknowingly, ruined the life of her sister and her sister’s lover.
What I liked about this novel, which is also what some people hate about this novel, is the ending. I won’t spoil anything, but the ending does change a lot about the story as you think of it. I would highly recommend reading this novel because of how the ending basically gives you a good idea of what storytelling – and atoning for your sins – is all about, which is really what the novel is centered around.
Final rating: 4/5.
Not my favorite McEwan but still good. Not as much edge as his earlier novels
"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."
On the hottest day of 1934, looking out of a bedroom window 13 year-old Briony Tallis sees her older sister Cecelia strip to her underwear and plunge into the fountain in the garden of their parent's country house watched their childhood friend Robbie Turner, the son of the family's cleaning woman. Briony misinterprets what she has seen and by the end of the day all their lives will have changed forever.
This is the sixth book by McEwan that I've read and on the whole they've left me disappointed, with the exception of 'The Child in Time.' Now I have mixed feelings about this one.
At times I found it predictable and plodding, far too many sentences seemed to have been written for the pleasure of writing them rather than with the reader in mind, those long passive sentences take a bit to unravel . The story often meanders and the description of the horrors in France is very good yet somehow also felt detached which only really made sense when I got to the final section. In truth McEwan's descriptions are very vivid but when they come instead of plot its frustrating. Yet oddly I also found it compelling and probably my favourite of the author's books that I've read.
I think its only fair that I should point out at this juncture that I've never seen the movie adaptation of this book ,never really wanted to, but may have to now.
Briony, Cecily and Robbie and Briony's touch on all their lives near World War 2 in England.
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.
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.
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’.
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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.
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Melvil Decimal System (DDC)823.914Literature English & Old English literatures English fiction Modern Period 1901-1999 1945-1999
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Well,Ian McEwan..you just made me sad..why did you do that.Well,I guess life happens.The books is just beautiful.It touched my heart with all its sadness and beauty and was just wonderful.Cecilia and Robbie's love is just exemplary,a stuff of the myths.I don't know how to explain my feelings towards Briony.I hated for doing what she did but later I didn't know how I feel about her.But I have to say,she is a spineless creature and she admitted that too.
She tried repenting but that was not enough.Overall the book was great but there were some parts that I hated.I didn't even read the second part.It was about war and to me,it was pretty boring.I skipped most of those parts but I had to say I loved the third part and read it with all my concentration.Characters like Luc Cornet,even though small,leaves a mark.I loved all the characters but I hated one,Paul Marshall,that man! and Briony should've opposed the wedding.But,I'm not Briony and I can't control what happens in the story.I just went with it.I was happy with the ending of the third part but then I realized it was a lie!
But Briony gave them their happiness or that is what she said.
Overall,the book was awesome and this review is inadequate and filled with adjectives that mean the same thing!I would recommend this to all the crazy romantics out there and anybody who has the book with them,it is a must read.I don't think I'm going to rad it again but I will cherish it forever.