Atonement, by Ian MacEwan, for the most part seemed to hold up to the hype set up by both myself and others. I found it well written and evocative, so that through his lush prose I was able to visualize what was happening and try to understand the characters, who were brimming with life. (Try as I might, however, I couldn’t see Cecelia as anything other than Keira Knightley on the cover.)

In the summer of 1935 young Briony Tallis has the mind and eye of a writer, trying to capture everything and superimpose her own beliefs. How she interprets what she witnesses between her elder sister Cecelia and the charwoman’s son Robbie Turner will change everyone. Briony (I wonder if he made up the name) is a fascinating character, but much too precocious for her own good. She was 13 at the time and still unable to fully comprehend adult situations, which made me wonder if the same is true today. I’ve seen teenagers who are shockingly “mature,” and worry that they are growing up too fast.

The descriptions of Dunkirk during the war overwhelming in their intensity, and I have to shake my head sometimes at the things we make other human beings endure. It’s almost enough to make me not want to see the movie. Even nursing had its horrors, a far cry from the optimism of Cherry Ames. My only consolation was that Robbie and Cecelia still had each other.

Warning–possible spoiler.) I thought the ending of the book was effective, but cheap. I’m still not sure whether or not I agree with it.

This book is the modern bonus for the Classics Challenge, and is also on both the Guardian and 1001 Novels list. This goes to show the differences, as I’m now at 50 for the former and only 39 on the latter.

Published in: on July 1, 2009 at 10:36 pm  Comments (3)  
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  1. […] say no to a hardcover of Saturday, though; if it’s anything like Atonement, which I read last month,  it’ll be worth owning. Published […]

  2. […] Atonement, by Ian McEwan: I know he’s gotten some mixed reviews, but months later I still feel emotionally involved with the characters. […]

  3. […] least about life on and off the battlefield. I found myself drawing heavily on my recollection of Atonement for its stark depiction of combat conditions. Overall, the book is a keen look at the ways in which […]

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