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Wednesday, June 6, 2012

ATONEMENT by IAN MCEWAN

Set in 1935 the story encompasses the lives of three people Briony a thirteen year old, her elder sister Cecilia and Robbie Turner the charwoman's son who is also brilliant and who is on the threshold of entering university to study medicine.

We have Briony intense, artistic, looking at everything with a future eye as to how it can be turned to her advantage in the form of a story, then we have Cecilia intense, not sure of herself or her feelings or what she wants to do with her life and then we have Robbie who knows the battle to win Cecilia will be hard in the face of family opposition.

Briony witnesses a sexual encounter between Cecilia and Robbie - and in her thirteen year old mind associates it as an assault. Coupled with the letter she had secretly read sent by Robbie to Cecilia it dawns on her that she should protect her sister against the "monster". Witnessing an assault n her cousin Lola the same evening, she associates the assailant with Robbie, accuses him of molestation and the entire course of all their lives changes. Fast forward to Briony turning eighteen, becoming a probationer nurse for the duration of the War and wanting to make amends/realising that her accusation is false, she seeks forgiveness from both Cecilia and Robbie but knows the path ahead of her is very hard. Fast forward to Briony turning seventy seven and an established published author. Her book is part of the continuous atonement she seeks as she will be publishing the correct story covering the entire saga.

The book will appeal to those with an imagination.  What trouble a thirteen year old can cause - deliberately or by accident (you can take it either way) and how one incident can change the course of your life. It was also interesting to see how Briony changed as she matured - not everyone will seek public atonement however sorry they are for what they have done. A very descriptive book of war both in England and France, and specially hospital scenes were very detailed as two of the three main characters were nurses. May be a bit harsh for some readers but this is reality as it was.

A very good book.

5 comments:

Mary (Bookfan) said...

I agree completely! I really liked this book (for me the film was disappointing).

Anna said...

I've heard so many good things about this book that I'm going to have to give it another chance at some point. I started to read it a few years ago and couldn't get past the first 10 pages.

DCMetroreader said...

I loved Atonement! Great review!

A Bookish Space said...

This is one of my favourite books, although I can never get over the sad fates of two of the main characters. I loved the film too.

Lisa said...

I read this one very soon after I had seen the movie - perhaps too soon. I felt like I was reading the screenplay. Which is a good thing if you've done the thing in reverse because you would probably love the movie. But even though the writing was very good, I was so bored by it and I'm sure I didn't really appreciate the story as much as I might have.