Author: Ian McEwan
Date Finished: January 12, 2008
I had heard so many great things about this book in the blogosphere and then in looking forward to the movie, I was really wanting to read this book. I had a vague idea of what the premise was, but only little pieces. As I read through the first section of the book, I was pulled through each page with anticipation of what was going to happen. I was hooked to McEwan's beautiful and smooth prose and his subtle use of suspense.
Atonement is the story of a young girl, Briony, who is on the brink of young-adulthood, but still has so much to learn about life. She witnesses a number of events that revolve around her sister and Robbie during a summer afternoon and makes several assumptions that lead to Robbie's implication of a crime. That's all I knew going into the book, so I'll leave it at that.
The book is divided into three very different sections (at least in terms of style). The first section--the one that describes Briony's transgression, moves from perspective to perspective giving a glimpse into each of the characters feelings and motivations. Because of the way that McEwan gives just a little bit of information at a time, the buildup was very great for me. I was drawn into the narrative--needing to receive answers. Once I found out what Briony had done, the second section--Robbie's narrative of World War II seemed slow. By the time the narrative moved back to Briony in section three, I grew a little restless with the story. The ending came together beautifully--and McEwan masterfully shows the reader how powerful atonement can be. It is an ending that stuck with me for a few hours after closing the book (I was on a plane), and it will be an ending that I will continue to remember, which is what I hope for in a book.
I would recommend this book and I will certainly be seeking out McEwan's other works.