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Atonement: A Novel Paperback – February 25, 2003
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Ian McEwan's Booker Prize-nominated Atonement is his first novel since Amsterdam took home the prize in 1998. But while Amsterdam was a slim, sleek piece, Atonement is a more sturdy, more ambitious work, allowing McEwan more room to play, think, and experiment.
We meet 13-year-old Briony Tallis in the summer of 1935, as she attempts to stage a production of her new drama "The Trials of Arabella" to welcome home her older, idolized brother Leon. But she soon discovers that her cousins, the glamorous Lola and the twin boys Jackson and Pierrot, aren't up to the task, and directorial ambitions are abandoned as more interesting prospects of preoccupation come onto the scene. The charlady's son, Robbie Turner, appears to be forcing Briony's sister Cecilia to strip in the fountain and sends her obscene letters; Leon has brought home a dim chocolate magnate keen for a war to promote his new "Army Ammo" chocolate bar; and upstairs, Briony's migraine-stricken mother Emily keeps tabs on the house from her bed. Soon, secrets emerge that change the lives of everyone present....
The interwar, upper-middle-class setting of the book's long, masterfully sustained opening section might recall Virginia Woolf or Henry Green, but as we move forward--eventually to the turn of the 21st century--the novel's central concerns emerge, and McEwan's voice becomes clear, even personal. For at heart, Atonement is about the pleasures, pains, and dangers of writing, and perhaps even more, about the challenge of controlling what readers make of your writing. McEwan shouldn't have any doubts about readers of Atonement: this is a thoughtful, provocative, and at times moving book that will have readers applauding. --Alan Stewart, Amazon.co.uk --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
From Publishers Weekly
This haunting novel, which just failed to win the Booker this year, is at once McEwan at his most closely observed and psychologically penetrating, and his most sweeping and expansive. It is in effect two, or even three, books in one, all masterfully crafted. The first part ushers us into a domestic crisis that becomes a crime story centered around an event that changes the lives of half a dozen people in an upper-middle-class country home on a hot English summer's day in 1935. Young Briony Tallis, a hyperimaginative 13-year-old who sees her older sister, Cecilia, mysteriously involved with their neighbor Robbie Turner, a fellow Cambridge student subsidized by the Tallis family, points a finger at Robbie when her young cousin is assaulted in the grounds that night; on her testimony alone, Robbie is jailed. The second part of the book moves forward five years to focus on Robbie, now freed and part of the British Army that was cornered and eventually evacuated by a fleet of small boats at Dunkirk during the early days of WWII. This is an astonishingly imagined fresco that bares the full anguish of what Britain in later years came to see as a kind of victory. In the third part, Briony becomes a nurse amid wonderfully observed scenes of London as the nation mobilizes. No, she doesn't have Robbie as a patient, but she begins to come to terms with what she has done and offers to make amends to him and Cecilia, now together as lovers. In an ironic epilogue that is yet another coup de the tre, McEwan offers Briony as an elderly novelist today, revisiting her past in fact and fancy and contributing a moving windup to the sustained flight of a deeply novelistic imagination. With each book McEwan ranges wider, and his powers have never been more fully in evidence than here. Author tour. (Mar. 19)Forecast: McEwan's work has been building a strong literary readership, and the brilliantly evoked prewar and wartime scenes here should extend that; expect strong results from handselling to the faithful. The cover photo of a stately English home nicely establishes the novel's atmosphere
Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information, Inc.--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Top Customer Reviews
McEwan invites you into an English world that you will smell, hear, feel, and taste - and your mind and emotions will be fully engaged. The family has money and servants but this is nothing you've seen on television or the movies. The story is told with discipline and control, and from several points of view. The people are palpably real. It's a tightly organized and satisfying assemblage of the things that matter, among them family life, childhood, debt and obligation, loyalty, imagination, faith and hope, innocence and guilt, love, desire, varieties of destruction - and the urge to make a difference. Finally: war and peace. (In fact, you might be reminded of Tolstoy in more than a few ways.) In addition it's a fierce and moving meditation on the life of the mind and creativity. At the same time, McEwan's powers of description are such that all of your senses are never anything but fully engaged. English country life in the 1930's - a heat wave, and the fragrance of wildflowers, the feel of a silk dress that is sticking to skin, the thick dark of a moonless summer night - through the horrors of the Second World War (Dunkirk most dramatically and effectively) and beyond. It is either sheer brilliance, or a deeply humane urge, or maybe just a workmanlike sense, but McEwan takes full responsibility for each of his characters- and sees them through to the end.
Nearly every page has something unselfconsciously remarkable to think about - or to reconsider. I used my pencil throughout; there is so much that is wise or just plain awe-inspiring in this book. McEwan has accomplished something amazing. I'm telling friends to read the book first, reviews second. The story is so terrific, and so moving and important - and might unfold best for the reader who comes to it blissfully uninformed. It's not very often that I've felt transformed by a novel. Read it as soon as you can.
Thought I would order the book because books can lend so much more detail and backstory that a movie simply cannot.
I love reading. I have read many different genres, and have even slugged away through Robert Jordan's Wheel of Time series... and I thought Robert Jordan enjoyed his descriptions! But Robert Jordan's world was such that even though many passages and even in one case, an entire book were laborious to get through, I still re-read those books and have every single one of them.
I have to say that usually when I get a new book, I finish it within a week, no matter how long it is. If it is really good, I will devour it in a few days.
Well, it has been weeks that I have had this book and I haven't yet made it past part one. The part of the book I am currently on is where everyone has just gone out to search for the twins.
I enjoy descriptions and feeling as though I am a part of the world the reader is trying to describe, but this novel is TOO wordy.
So many adjectives and my eyes glaze over. Especially since I don't feel emotionally invested in really any of the characters because there is too much about everything else!
When I read two pages about the sunset, all of it's colors, then in turn all of the colors it is turning the trees, leaves, and the surrounding areas and how if the character had just stood up and contorted their body in just the right way, then they would see these things that have just been described to me in full detail, I have a hard time really getting into the book.
When there is so much description about the surroundings that several pages later the plot has not progressed, I start to think of other things I should or could be doing. And this is hard for me to admit, because I love reading.
Reading should be an escape to another world where you don't have the voice in the back of your mind telling you about mundane household chores you should be doing!
Sadly, though I want to like this book so rich in detail, it has too much detail. I will finish it, as I don't like to leave any book unfinished, but it will likely take quite some time, as I will read other books to take my mind off of the odious task of finishing Atonement.
I will not be checking out anything else from this author.
I had, probably, expectations way to high, so I was very disappointed with the book. It drags for an insufferable amount of time and when it comes to the big revelation it amounted to nothing. It works better in the movie, but even then, it had no impact in me.
There are, of course, things that I liked and left me torn regarding the rating I would give this book. I loved the use that Ian McEwan makes of language. The way he masters long sentences, which is not very common in English language. I liked the idea of the different views of the same fact by the different characters and the way that propels the narrative, but I also thought that, in general, the book ended up being quite boring and excessively descriptive.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
There were a couple of scenes where I questioned its length and meaning (e.g.Read more