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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Can a writer achieve penance and atonement through writing?
While Ian McEwan's novel seemingly centers around one day and evening when a series of unfortunate events cascades into tragedy for one family, this is only one layer in this mesmerizing book. Below the surface are questions about sin, human fraility, love and, finally, atonement. At the heart of the book is a young girl names Briony and her unformed views of the world...
Published on March 16 2002 by K. Corn

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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars I'll try again
Frankly, I'm not too sure about this one. The language is great but I found it too 'elongated'. I guess it's just me..going into details for a certain scenario for too long isn't my taste.
So for readers out there who are like me (I like books like 'Gap Creek', Frank McCourt's, Drowning Ruth, Umberto Eco's 'Name Of The Rose', etc. etc.)..you might want to think again...
Published on Aug. 5 2005 by Just another reader


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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Can a writer achieve penance and atonement through writing?, March 16 2002
This review is from: Atonement: A Novel (Hardcover)
While Ian McEwan's novel seemingly centers around one day and evening when a series of unfortunate events cascades into tragedy for one family, this is only one layer in this mesmerizing book. Below the surface are questions about sin, human fraility, love and, finally, atonement. At the heart of the book is a young girl names Briony and her unformed views of the world which lead her to unfortunate conclusions. As McEwan describes her perspective: .."her life now beginning had sent her a villain in the form of an old family friend...that seemed about right- truth was strange and deceptive, it had to be struggled for, against the flow of the everyday..."
Until I encountered this book, I had begun to wonder if there was truly anything new and original to be read in literature - or only a rehash of themes that had already been worked to death. But McEwan's book not only kept me glued to my seat until I'd finished every last page and read every single word (but slowly, so I could savor the best lines), but made me rethink my beliefs. It made me think about not only love, family ties and betrayals and truth versus fiction but left a reverberation that continues to echo through my days. If this sounds overblown and sentimental, I urge you to read this book yourself before coming to any judgments.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Amazing book, Nov. 21 2011
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This review is from: Atonement (Paperback)
I love this novel.
This is the novel that solidified Ian McEwan for me, and many others. Its just such a great novel. Th movie was also a spectacular adaptation. i might have chosen someone else to portray Cecilia instead of Keira Knightley but thats a minor detail.
I loved the way this book was written, the subtleties of the novel and the life lessons I learned. This is a dark novel but it is so worth reading and is highly influential! Love this novel. Definitely will reread from time and time again.
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5.0 out of 5 stars PAY ATTENTION AND YOU'LL ENJOY, Feb. 4 2005
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This review is from: Atonement (Paperback)
"ATONEMENT" is a highly provocative novel of complex plots and characters. You have to pay attention to truly enjoy it, but that shouldn't be a problem because the writing is engrossing enough to make you want to do that. It would be easy to compare it to "MY FRACTURED LIFE" because of the use of nontraditional protagonists, however I prefer to challenge that "ATONEMENT" and any other book be judged individually. "ATONEMENT" and "MY FRACTURED LIFE" are both excellent and I recommend them both, but not for their similarities, but for their inherent uniqueness. The should be read as individual books and judged as individual books. From my point of view, "ATONEMENT" is a strong and compelling book that stands on its own.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Magnificent novel, Dec 19 2007
This review is from: Atonement (Paperback)
I am re-reading the book for the third time now and it never gets tired. This is such a beautiful, heart-breaking story that you cannot afford to miss reading it if you are a literature buff, or just appreciate really great fiction.

The details and lushness of the imagery are breath-taking. A very detail specific book, but that is one of the things I appreciated in the book. I can't say too much or I'll spoil the story, but I highly recommend it.

I would also recommend the movie, it's excellent. Especially the performances by lead actors James McAvoy and Keira Knightley.
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars I'll try again, Aug. 5 2005
This review is from: Atonement (Paperback)
Frankly, I'm not too sure about this one. The language is great but I found it too 'elongated'. I guess it's just me..going into details for a certain scenario for too long isn't my taste.
So for readers out there who are like me (I like books like 'Gap Creek', Frank McCourt's, Drowning Ruth, Umberto Eco's 'Name Of The Rose', etc. etc.)..you might want to think again before reading this.
I'll give Ian's work another chance though..I have his 'Saturday'... maybe that will change my opinion.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Slow start but incredible book, Feb. 11 2004
By A Customer
This review is from: Atonement (Paperback)
I feel all has been said and I'm repeating the earlier reviews but I have to write because I so enjoyed this book. The first few chapters were a bit long, a lot of descriptions.
Once it picks up, the story is incredible. This author can write about is characters in a way that is almost impossible to describe. You get in the heads of the people and there is no going back. Not only is the plot interesting, hte narrative itself is enough to sustain the book. And, unlike most novels I've read lately, I was SO happy with the ending. I won't say more so I won't spoil it for other readers.
This was the first novel of this author I've read. I'm going to read all his books.
READ this!
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A work of staggering beauty and emotional complexity, June 21 2006
By 
Daniel Jolley "darkgenius" (Shelby, North Carolina USA) - See all my reviews
(TOP 50 REVIEWER)    (REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Atonement (Paperback)
In the realm of modern literature, no star seems to be shining as brilliantly as that of Ian McEwan, and Atonement is a work of truly magical beauty and grace. McEwan's writing makes the English language come alive with all sorts of powerful emotions and complex subtleties. I can't say that Atonement is a particularly happy sort of book, but there's no reason why it should be. Life's most important lessons are learned in times of sorrow and regret, and the lynchpin of this story is one girl's crime and the troubles that it brings cascading down upon a number of important lives with a terrible force, made even more tragic by the onset of war with the Third Reich. Those looking for a light read may not find themselves immersed in Atonement; not only does it take a while for the novel to really take off, it is broken up into several somewhat drastically different narrative flows. It all works beautifully in the end, though, and casts a hypnotic spell over the reader.

First, we meet young, precocious, writer-to-be Briony Tallis and her family and friends. The family home is suddenly filled with life again as Briony's brother and his friend from college come to visit - sister Cecilia having returned home from school a few months earlier, three cousins have moved in after their mother left her husband and ran off to Paris with another man, and Robbie Turner is once again a fixture on the landscape. The son of a family servant, Robbie is an unofficial member of the family whose education has been financed by Briony's always-absent father. On the particular day we meet these fascinating characters, Briony becomes an adult, throwing away childish dreams while seeking adult themes and stories to write, and a chance sighting of Cecilia and Robbie outside at the fountain sets the stage for a tragedy of immense proportions. We soon move ahead a few years to witness the horrors of war during the British panicked retreat to Dunkirk, a riveting section of the book that is at first rather annoying given the fact that the first section ended at a point of high drama. Briony comes to realize the gravity and unforgivable nature of what she has done, and we read about her first steps toward atonement in the third section, where she foregoes school to work as a nurse just as the war in Europe is rushing headlong onto England's very shores. I found the description of the wounded soldiers and Briony's life as a nurse quite powerful and must admit feeling the onset of tears at one point. The final section is an epilogue of sorts, taking us from 1940 all the way to 1999, and what we see is Briony still seeking to atone for what she did decades earlier. The last few pages are infinitely sad, and I almost wish I hadn't read the last two pages because, in a way, they make these events even more tragic than they already were.

To a small degree, Atonement is a mystery of sorts, by which I mean to say that McEwan holds out several facts along the way, including one small bombshell, thereby keeping the story alive and riveting. I think I am most amazed by his subtlety, however. I was impressed by some really almost hidden parallels between the early and late portions of the novel; in most cases, McEwan simply inserts them for the careful reader to find and appreciate on his/her own. Whereas many writers would go out of their way pointing blinking arrows at such little touches of complexity, McEwan simply slips them in with quiet grace. I dare not say more about the plot than what I revealed earlier, but I have to reiterate my sense of wonder at this novel and its creator whom I consider, without the first qualm of doubt, a modern literary genius.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Brief Bottom Line Review, June 22 2003
By A Customer
This review is from: Atonement (Paperback)
On a scale from 1 to 7 (7=outstanding, 4=average, 1=horrendous) ...
Plot: 4
Structure: 7 (Can't rave about it enough)
Language: 6 (Very accessible, beautiful without calling attention to itself)
Character Development: 6 (Briony will definitely stay with you)
Action: 3
Descriptions and settings: 4
While on the surface not much happens in this story, the implications are huge, and McEwan's ability to make you identify with the different characters is superb, even though the characters are not always likeable and their actions are complex. The way the story is structured is so magnificent that it makes up for the plot's lack of interest overall. The middle section dealing with the retreat from Dunkirk while treating the subject realistically, lacks drama for a war scene. But all of these are minor quibbles. The story will have you thinking about it's implications for days and weeks after you've finished reading it. Some of the other books I've read this year including Franzen's "The Corrections," Faber's "The Crimson Petal and the White," Marquez's "One Hundred Years of Solitude," McEwan's own "Amsterdam," and even the first three Harry Potters are fading from my memory, while "Atonement" continues to linger on along with another disturbing (though far less accessible) masterpiece I recently read for the first time, "The Sound and the Fury." I think McEwan's book will last in the public's memory as well as Faulkner's.
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A meditation on the art of manipulation, Dec 18 2005
By 
Lee Zimmerman (Ottawa, Ontario) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Atonement (Paperback)
I read Atonement about a year ago, and parts of it linger in my mind to this day. I've read other works by the author, including his latest, Saturday, and they are all well-written, solid efforts. But they don't hold a candle to Atonement. It is quite simply McEwan's masterpiece, a book that works on so many levels it's frightening. Not once, not twice, but time after time after time, the author writes a sentence or phrase that so beautifully captures a feeling or truth that it quite literally takes your breath away. "Why, yes! He's right, that is SO true!", you find yourself saying. Like John Irving, McEwan draws you in and forces you to fall in love with his characters, only to...well, I won't tell you what he does, for that would be unfair. Suffice it to say that the subtext of this book is nothing short of the art of fiction itself, the art of creating fiction, the art of manipulating the reader, the art of the lie -- of the lie within the lie. When I finished this book, I was in tears. Tears of pain and tears of joy. I longed for McEwan to be standing in front of me, so I could either beat him to a pulp for so cruelly manipulating his readers, or hug him for having created such beauty. Maybe both. Read this book.
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3.0 out of 5 stars Atonement, March 19 2009
This review is from: Atonement (Paperback)
"Atonement" by Ian McEwan is a beautifully written book, with the imagery being so vivid that the reader can clearly see in their mind what is happening in the book.

Young Briony Tallis witnesses an intimate moment between her sister Cecilia and the son of a servant, Robbie Turner. Briony has a passion for writing and an imagination that sees what it wants to see. Her misunderstanding of this flirtatious moment between her sister and Robbie Turner has devastating consequences that the reader follows through the battle of World War II and to the close of the twentieth century.

I had trouble liking this book, it is well praised for its literary genius and it is a gorgeous read, but I did not bond with any of the characters. Actually the only character that really interested me was Briony, but her story is short changed. Instead the story focuses on the two lovers, Cecilia and Robbie and their devastating separation.

It seems hard to believe that Cecilia and Robbie could be so deeply in love and committed to each other throughout war and hell after just spending one-half of a day realizing that they loved each other before they are separated. Their encounter in the library seems more lustful then full of love.

The ending is one part of the book that I really enjoyed, it focused on Briony and it throws a realistic twist into the whole book. Bring on more Briony! This book should be read just for the writing style and the vividness of the word that Ian McEwan is able to produce.
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Atonement
Atonement by Ian McEwan (Paperback - Nov. 5 2002)
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