Book Review: Atonement by Ian McEwan

Read between: 3rd June-14th June 2015
Number of pages: 372
Genre: Historical fiction
Format: Paperback
Rating: four-star-rating-hi

Synopsis: On a hot summer day in 1934, 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, Atonement engages the reader on every conceivable level, with an ease and authority that mark it as a genuine masterpiece.

Review: Although this is a re-read, it has been quite a while, so I wanted to pick up Atonement with a maturer mindset.

I’m used to the film adaptation and although, like the book, the film flicks between character perspectives, the book flows much more easily. The way it is written really work and allowed me to consider Briony, Cecilia and Robbie as both individual characters and a trio, who without, would not give the book the story or the image of scorned lovers, childish assumptions and the emotions that follow when war breaks out.

I still do not like Briony. As a child, she’s extremely petulant ad I would like nothing more than to punch her in the face because the lie she told at the age of thirteen managed to break a family and a relationship apart- all because, perhaps, she was jealous of what her sister had with Robbie.

However, the underlying moral shows that lying, even a little white lie, can have huge long term effects as time goes on. It is a lovely story however with the ending providing us with Briony as an old woman, telling her story in order to atone for it. Her atonement? She gave Cecilia and Robbie their happiness- but realistically, they both unfortunately lost their lives in 1940 and never really knew how sorry she was.

I would definitely recommend it, if you have not seen the film either, I would recommend that too as it is a personal favourite of mine.

Thanks for reading!

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4 thoughts on “Book Review: Atonement by Ian McEwan

  1. I loved both the book and film versions. I should probably read more McEwan novels because the ones I’ve read were amazing. Have you read any more of his books?

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