Atonement Hardcover – Large Print, Jun 2002
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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 the Paperback edition.
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 alternate Hardcover edition. See all Product Description
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Top Customer Reviews
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.
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.
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.
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.
Besides the depth of character development in the book, we the readers are also treated to a marvelously vivid set of images of a world gradually hurtling toward war. There is Briony's stripping in the fountain for Robbie Turner, and the latter's desperation several years later at Dunkirk, waiting in terror for an uncertain rescue as the Nazi death trap closes in around him and his compatriots. A worthy and in some ways superior follow-up to McEwan's Amsterdam.
I enjoy the pace of his narrative, and I don't find chapter breaks bothersome if they leave me hanging, because I've come to enjoy McEwan's style and pace. The layers of his story come together in an almost dreamlike fashion, and sometimes it's not until after an event has come and gone that you sense that things are maybe not what they seem. Again, it's not quite the same creepy level (psychologically or otherwise) as his other books, as you pretty much see what is happening as it happens.
But the fun is in the telling. If you're a McEwan fan you'll enjoy this a bunch. If you are not a McEwan fan (yet) I'd still suggest reading this, but make sure you also read Cement Garden and Comfort of Strangers (and perhaps The Innocent).
Most recent customer reviews
It took me a while to get into this book because McEwan's prose is rich (and at times heavy) delving into his character's conscious experiences moment by moment. Read morePublished 12 months ago by MightyPennysworth
I started reading this book for our book club in August and I ended up skipping the event because of the book. Read morePublished 14 months ago by Gregory Ast
How bad / poor parenting can result in children ruining the lives of people.Published 17 months ago by Gaia G.
Excellent. My favourite McEwan. A movie of this book makes no sense, and I will never see it.Published 19 months ago by Pete
This is the story of Briony Tallis and the effect a simple statement makes on the lives of those around her. Read morePublished on Jan. 19 2011 by Heather Pearson
I could not even finish reading this book... which has never happened to me. Ever.
The story line was painfully slow. In fact, there wasn't much of a story at all. Read more
"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. Read morePublished on March 19 2009 by Pauline
I initially picked this book up because of it's raving reviews. It was good to start, interesting. Without explanation jumps to a large section about war (do not care for war) it... Read morePublished on Jan. 24 2009 by F. Green