Monday, December 6, 2010

Review: Atonement by Ian McEwan

Ian McEwan’s symphonic novel of love and war, childhood and class, guilt and forgiveness provides all the satisfaction of a brilliant narrative and the provocation we have come to expect from this master of English prose.

On a hot summer day in 1935, thirteen-year-old Briony Tallis witnesses a moment’s flirtation between her older sister, Cecilia, and Robbie Turner, the son of a servant and Cecilia’s childhood friend. But Briony’s incomplete grasp of adult motives–together with her precocious literary gifts–brings about a crime that will change all their lives. As it follows that crime’s repercussions through the chaos and carnage of World War II and into the close of the twentieth century.

I decided to read Atonement because I knew there was a movie, and I like reading books and watching the movie versions of them. Unfortunately, I could not get into the book for a good part of it. I thought many parts were slow and boring. It took me a while just to finish the book. I just did not feel drawn to the characters. I will say that Atonement is beautifully written. Ian McEwan no doubt knows how to write, but unfortunately the writing could not save this story for me. For most of the book, I could not stand Briony. I thought she was annoying, and I hated how she ruined her sister Cecilia and Robbie's lives.

What saved this book for me was the ending, and it is not a happy one. Briony knows what she did is wrong, but sometimes you cannot take back what you said. Sometimes there is nothing you can do but live with the consequences.

Rating: 3/5

Swords are for fighting,


  1. I've wondered about the book.

    The movie is fantastic.

  2. I loved this book and thought the movie was a great adaption too. I think the way Ian McEwan uses words is incredible, I was gutted by the way the story ends up! I've got a few more of his books on my TBR shelf but I haven't read them yet, so many books, so little time.