By Ian McEwan
The Short of It:
Atonement is a multifaceted little gem of a book.
The Rest of It:
During the summer of 1935, Briony witnesses an encounter between her older sister Cecilia and a boy named Robbie Turner. Briony’s interpretation of the event and those thereafter, lead her to tell a devastating lie. As time passes, the realization of what she’s done leaves her desperate for redemption and forgiveness which only the absolute truth can bring.
I love this book. I first read it years ago for book group but recently re-read it for the class I am taking. In class, we took several weeks to discuss it and let me tell you, it was quite a treat to have that much time to discuss the book. This is one of those books that is a bit of everything. There’s a love story, betrayal, the loss of innocence, war and the whole theme of atonement itself…it’s just so rich. So full.
As you read, your thoughts go one way and then another. McEwan’s attention to detail was tiresome for some, but for me? I lapped it up. The setting and the characters were easy to picture in my mind and I found that I could relate to several of the characters at once. A young girl, living in a huge house out in the English countryside tells a lie that can’t be taken back. How can you resist that?
Atonement is considered by many to be McEwan’s best work. It was shortlisted for the Booker Prize in 2001 and this is one case where I can totally understand why.
In class, we watched bits of the movie which came out in 2007 and starred Keira Knightly and James McAvoy.
The parts that I saw were wonderful and really did the book justice. Makes me want to see the entire film now.
If you have a copy of Atonement lying around, I encourage you to pick it up and read it and if you don’t have a copy, you might want to get one. It’s one of those books that will make you love reading all over again.