Atonement

Atonement

Book - 2001
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The novel opens on a sweltering summer day in 1935 at the Tallis family's mansion in the Surrey countryside. Thirteen-year-old Briony has written a play in honor of the visit of her adored older brother Leon; other guests include her three young cousins -- refugees from their parent's marital breakup -- Leon's friend Paul Marshall, the manufacturer of a chocolate bar called "Amo" that soldiers will be able to carry into war, and Robbie Turner, the son of the family charlady whose brilliantly successful college career has been funded by Mr. Tallis. Jack Tallis is absent from the gathering; he spends most of his time in London at the War Ministry and with his mistress. His wife Emily is a semi-invalid, nursing chronic migraine headaches. Their elder daughter Cecilia is also present; she has just graduated from Cambridge and is at home for the summer, restless and yearning for her life to really begin. Rehearsals for Briony's play aren't going well; her cousin Lola has stolen the starring role, the twin boys can't speak the lines properly, and Briony suddenly realizes that her destiny is to be a novelist, not a dramatist.

In the midst of the long hot afternoon, Briony happens to be watching from a window when Cecilia strips off her clothes and plunges into the fountain on the lawn as Robbie looks on. Later that evening, Briony thinks she sees Robbie attacking Cecilia in the library, she reads a note meant for Cecilia, her cousin Lola is sexually assaulted, and she makes an accusation that she will repent for the rest of her life.

The next two parts of Atonement shift to the spring of 1940 as Hitler's forces are sweeping across the Low Countries and into France. Robbie Turner, wounded, joins the disastrous British retreat to Dunkirk. Instead of going up to Cambridge to begin her studies, Briony has become a nurse in one of London's military hospitals. The fourth and final section takes place in 1999, as Briony celebrates her 77th birthday with the completion of a book about the events of 1935 and 1940, a novel called Atonement .

In its broad historical framework Atonement is a departure from McEwan's earlier work, and he loads the story with an emotional intensity and a gripping plot reminiscent of the best nineteenth-century fiction. Brilliant and utterly enthralling in its depiction of childhood, love and war, England and class, the novel is a profoundly moving exploration of shame and forgiveness and the difficulty of absolution.
Publisher: Toronto : A.A. Knopf Canada, 2001.
ISBN: 9780676974560
0676974562
9780676974553
0676974554
Branch Call Number: MCEWA
Characteristics: 371 p.

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TSCPL_ChrisB Jun 02, 2016

A gorgeous novel. Its layers unveil new subtleties with each reading. I cannot read the final pages without being stirred emotionally.

j
jazpur
Nov 19, 2014

Ian Mc Ewan's portrayal of the world of Briony Tallis from 1935, through the years of WWII and beyond is quite brilliant. In modern parlance she was the spoilt, often neglected, highly fanciful afterthought in a large British family with servants who lived in an ugly old mansion with a sprawling garden. She went on to work through the war as a nurse and later became a noted novelist.The ramifications of the lie she told about the incident she saw when she was 13 in 1935 affected so many lives.The characters are entirely believable.The various styles of novel writing all play a part in the development of the story. The title is apt but life is never simple..The novel translated to an excellent film.

antonio_brewbrew Aug 26, 2014

LOVESSS IT

c
Catherine41
Jul 26, 2014

Not a bad read, but I found it a little slow in the second part. It's interesting because, in my mind, not alot happens in the book in terms of events, but the reader is given alot to think about. Great for a book club!

l
Lanny213
Mar 22, 2014

This book took me a while to read. The second and third parts were faster than the beginning. There wasn't a nice, neat "wrap up" at the end. I'm looking forward to hearing what other book club ladies think about it.

Library_Lisa Mar 11, 2014

I did not enjoy this book. I did, however, find it thoughtful and very well-written.

kendradriscoll Mar 05, 2014

It has been several years since I read this book, but it still stays with me. McEwan did a remarkably good job of emulating the internal voice of a fanciful 13-year-old girl. The characters were believable, their actions all too human. Overall, the story was compelling, heartbreaking, and above all aptly named. Well worth reading.

w
wordpix
Feb 07, 2014

Complex storyline, very deftly managed. Loved the sleepy, slow first half and the second half that turned to quick narrative. Very well done and a pleasure to read. Glad to have found a new author!

j
jkeeg
Jun 21, 2013

This book took awhile to get into, but by the end I really enjoyed it. It's got high level language, and since the author is British, it can sometimes be hard to understand what he is talking about, but I thought it was a great book overall.

s
Shauna_E
Apr 22, 2013

There are books that are still enjoyable if you've seen the movie. I don't think this is one of them. I would have enjoyed the book much more had I NOT watched the movie first. It took out all the spontaneity and made it a looong read. If you have the option, read the book first. Then watch the movie, which I loved.

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VV12
Aug 30, 2015

VV12 thinks this title is suitable for 14 years and over

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vchuynh
Jun 01, 2011

vchuynh thinks this title is suitable for 17 years and over

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vchuynh
Jun 04, 2011

This whole story is based on a misunderstanding that goes horribly wrong. Cecilia, a young woman is home for the summer from school. Robbie, the gardener's son is also at home. Cecilia decides to put some flowers in a very expensive vase to welcome the arrival of her brother and his friend. She sees Robbie in the garden and he volunteers to do this for Cecilia, however she wants to do it herself, as they fight to hold the vase, the handle breaks off and it falls into a fountain. Cecilia must retrieve the handle so she strips down to her underwear to dive into the fountain to retrieve it. As she emerges from the fountain, Briony her younger sister sees this from the window and sees Robbie watching her soaking wet sister in her underwear. Meanwhile, the brother and his friend arrive and he invites Robbie to dinner. Robbie decides to attend, and bring a note for Cecilia as he has fallen for her. He makes up many different drafts including a very vile and sexual note as a joke. He finally decides on a note and as he is getting dressed, he quickly picks up the note and heads out. He sees Briony playing outside on the outskirts of the property and he decides its better for Cecilia to see the note before he arrives so he gives the note to Briony to give to Cecilia. Shortly after, he realizes he gave the wrong note to Briony. Briony out of curiosity reads it before actually giving it to Cecilia. When Robbie arrives, he and Cecilia go into the library and he tries to explain to Cecilia. They both realize they are in love and they make love in the library. At the same time, Briony is looking for Cecilia and sees Robbie and her in the library in way such that Robbie looks like he is in an attacking position. During that night, the friend that was visiting the family with the brother rapes the family's cousin who is living with them. The police come and Briony tells them all she has seen and misunderstood. The cousin that was raped did not see who it was because it happened in the dark outside. The police end up arresting Robbie. Robbie must go to war. Cecilia is enraged, cannot stay with her family any longer decides to become a nurse. Briony does as well. Years later, Briony realizes that the friend is the one who raped her cousin, especially after she learns they are getting married. Briony continually tries to atone for her actions. Alas, Robbie dies at war, Cecilia also dies in a flood. All because of a misunderstanding.

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TSCPL_ChrisB Jun 06, 2016

A person is, among all else, a material thing, easily torn and not easily mended.

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