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Atonement (2001)

by Ian McEwan

Other authors: See the other authors section.

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingConversations / Mentions
26,461627113 (3.93)1 / 1185
Drama. Fiction. HTML:

ATONEMENT On the hottest day of the summer of 1935, thirteen-year-old Briony Tallis sees her older sister Cecilia strip off her clothes and plunge I not the fountain in the garden of their country house. Watching Cecilia is their housekeeper's son Robbie Turner, a childhood friend who, along with Briony's sister, has recently graduated from Cambridge. By the end of the day the lives of all three will have been changed forever. Robbie and Cecilia will have crossed a boundary they had not dared to approach and will have become victims of the younger girl's scheming imagination. And Briony will have committed a dreadful crime, the guilt for which will color her entire life. Atonement is at its center a profound and profoundly moving exploration of shame and forgiveness, and the difficulty in absolution.

.… (more)
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    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.
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Group TopicMessagesLast Message 
 Someone explain it to me...: Ian McEwan11 unread / 11PossMan, July 2014

» See also 1185 mentions

English (584)  Dutch (9)  Spanish (8)  German (5)  Italian (4)  French (4)  Catalan (2)  Finnish (1)  Polish (1)  Portuguese (1)  Danish (1)  Swedish (1)  All languages (621)
Showing 1-5 of 584 (next | show all)
On the hottest day of the summer of 1935, 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 too is Robbie Turner 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, as Briony commits a crime for which she will spend the rest of her life trying to atone.

Set against the backdrop of WWII, this is a tale of young love, misdeeds and atonement. Beautifully written as always by McEwan, it's a great read.

https://quizlit.org/21-best-british-books-of-the-21st-century#atonement-by-ian-m... ( )
  Quizlitbooks | Apr 20, 2024 |
Briony, aged 13, "a priggish, conceited girl" witnesses an interaction between her sister and a young man. Her misinterpretation and youthful impulsivity ruins the lives around her. She spends the rest of her life trying to rewrite the ending of her crime. ( )
  Chrissylou62 | Apr 11, 2024 |
Not a likable character in the lot. Made it hard to get through. I quit halfway, only to pick it back up after book club members suggested it got better in the second half. It did, but still... groan. ( )
  bookem | Mar 27, 2024 |
i'm not trying to be funny but the movie is just so much better ( )
  gojosatoru98 | Mar 1, 2024 |
I don't have much to say other than I thoroughly enjoyed the first 175 pages, but the following portions sort of lost it for me. The first and second halves are just so very different in tone, setting, and pacing that starting the second half felt like I had been ripped from one book and dropped into another. Which, considering the fact the second half is 5 years into World War II, I suppose one could make an argument on the purpose of the disjointed feeling, but personally I just didn't like it. I mentioned this earlier but I also just don't really enjoy war stories: I completely understand their importance and how meaningful they can be, but I'd rather read nonfiction accounts of theses moments, like biographies. Again, this is a personal preference, so someone else will likely enjoy the war portions.
Also, I felt like the main conflict and drama presented in the first part never got any worthwhile answers. The audience kind of does for a moment before THAT rug is ripped away, too (spoilers, so I won't say). I feel like McEwan was trying to really get into depth about fiction writing here, but I think I lost the point.
However, I do want to say that I am totally checking out another one of McEwan's books in the future because his writing style is incredibly appealing to me. It's very lyrical, sensual, and the imagery he creates is soooooo nice to read! Holding out some hope that I'll enjoy another work of his even more! ( )
  deborahee | Feb 23, 2024 |
Showing 1-5 of 584 (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 (21 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
McEwan, Ianprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Bailey, JosephineNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Basso, SusannaTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Blair, IslaNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Boyd, CaroleNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Britto, Paulo HenriquesTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Ekman, MariaTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Lukács, LauraTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Messud, ClaireIntroductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Metsch, FritzDesignersecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Robben, BernhardTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Tanner, JillNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Válková, MarieTranslatorsecondary 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
"Querida señorita Morland, considere la terrible naturaleza de las sospechas que ha albergado. ¿En qué se basa para emitir sus juicios? Recuerde el país y la época en la que vivimos. Recuerde que somos ingleses: que somos cristianos. Utilice su propio entendimiento, su propio sentido de las probabilidades, su propia observación de lo que ocurre alrededor. ¿Acaso nuestra educación nos prepara para atrocidades semejantes? ¿Acaso las consienten nuestras leyes? ¿Podrían perpetrarse sin que se supiese en un país como éste, donde las relaciones sociales y literarias están reglamentadas, donde todo el mundo vive rodeado de un vecindario de espías voluntarios, y donde las carreteras y los periódicos lo ponen todo al descubierto?. Queridísima señorita Morland ¿qué ideas ha estado concibiendo?-
Habían llegado al final del pasillo y, con lágrimas de vergüenza, Catherine huyó corriendo a su habitación".
Jane Austen. La abadía de Northanger
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 crêpe 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.
A person is, among all else, a material thing, easily torn and not easily mended.
Find you, love you, marry you, and live without shame.
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Wikipedia in English (1)

Drama. Fiction. HTML:

ATONEMENT On the hottest day of the summer of 1935, thirteen-year-old Briony Tallis sees her older sister Cecilia strip off her clothes and plunge I not the fountain in the garden of their country house. Watching Cecilia is their housekeeper's son Robbie Turner, a childhood friend who, along with Briony's sister, has recently graduated from Cambridge. By the end of the day the lives of all three will have been changed forever. Robbie and Cecilia will have crossed a boundary they had not dared to approach and will have become victims of the younger girl's scheming imagination. And Briony will have committed a dreadful crime, the guilt for which will color her entire life. Atonement is at its center a profound and profoundly moving exploration of shame and forgiveness, and the difficulty in absolution.

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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.
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