National Book Critics Circle, Fiction, 2003
In Atonement, three children lose their innocence, as the sweltering summer heat bears down on the hottest day in 1935, and their lives are changed forever. Cecilia Tallis is of England's priviledged class; Robbie Turner is the housekeeper's son. In their moment of intimate surrender, they are interrupted by Cecilia's hyperimaginative and scheming 13-year-old sister, Briony. And as chaos consumes the family, Briony commits a crime, the guilt of which she shall carry throughout her life.
©2003 Doubleday, Division of Random House, Inc.
"A tour de force. Every bit as affecting as it is gripping." (The New York Times)
"Enthralling...With psychological insight and a command of sensual and historical detail, Mr. McEwan creates an absorbing fictional world." (The Wall Street Journal)
"A beautiful and majestic fictional panorama." (The New Yorker)
For me its like Margaret Mitchell, Jane Austen and Ian McEwan all got together to write this awsome tale. I was mesmerized. I can't wait to see the movie and although the review for it are good, I cannot see how they could encompass all the book into a 2 hour movie. I'm glad I LISTENED to the book instead of reading it as I probably would've skipped the WWII parts which are so essential to the story. Beautifully written and beautifully read.
Besides providing an interestingly, densely-detailed picture of the attitudes of the well-bred British in the late 30's, McEwan lays bare some of the ways a writer's mind works, in youth and in maturity. You have to be a bit flexible to go along, but it is well worth it! However, for an overall pleasurable reading experience, I would give the edge to McEwan's _Saturday_. Though both books are set in worlds that seem to have gone mad, _Saturday_ is more uplifting for the reader. There is such a sense of foreboding lying over everything in _Atonment_.
Aptly enough, a pivotal event in this book is a stifling, excessive and interminable meal. Because that's exactly what this book is, except that unlike the characters, the readers do at least get a surprisingly flavorful pudding at the end.
Remove the author's infatuation with his own turn of a phrase and observations, and you have a story that can told in a paragraph: upper class British girl falls for the maid's son, her younger sister (acting out of either malice or ignorance) gives false testimony about the boyfriend, resulting in drastic consequences for him; boyfriend goes to war and experiences atrocities; younger sister turns down college, goes to work as a nurse, and tried various other measures to atone. Plus a twist at the end. The twist was by far the best part of the book, and frankly, I didn't think the author had it in him, but it was not such an awesome twist that it even remotely justified the tedious hours I spent listening.
This book was beautifully written. The reader is one of my favorites on audible (she was one of the readers of "The Thirteenth Tale", my favorite audible book to date). The story was long, bittersweet, slow - something to savor over a cup of tea with a warm blanket, or sit on the porch with a cup of coffee. I can't wait to see the movie!
In each section of Atonement, McEwan stretches the listener's nerves like rubber bands, farther and farther, thinner and thinner, until everything's about to snap. Then he stops, and he relaxes into the next section. only to begin the stretching all over again. The workout is mental of course. But it's also physical; the listener's muscles tighten and relax as the action ebbs and flows. The overall effect is stunning. This is the first great novel of the new millennium!
I love audio and ebooks but only give them a 5 if they hold my attention. An avereage story gets a 3 . Thrillers & Crime are my favorites.
Ok, so I listened for two hours and NOTHING has happened so far. I gave up and stopped listening. Sadly, the description sounds like it will be good but then the part where the three characters supposedly lose their innocence but the event is really a non-event.
The whole story up to this point is overly drawn out descriptions of mundane activities with no clear point or action. I have now seen in other reviews that one should wait until chapter 10 for the plot to get moving but I am quitting after chapter 5. Its just not worth it!
My interests run to psychology, popular science, history, world literature, and occasionally something fun like Jasper Fforde. It seems like the only free time I have for reading these days is when I'm in the car so I am extremely grateful for audio books. I started off reading just the contemporary stuff that I was determined not to clutter up my already stuffed bookcases with. And now audio is probably 90% of my "reading" matter.
This is such a great book but I don't know what I can say about it that won't be too much of a spoiler. It was a mind-opening experience as far as what can be done with the written word. More importantly, in a world where so many people are obsessed with forgiveness, it was refreshing to see someone focus on the other side of that activity. Hence the title of the book. I cannot recommend this highly enough.
Like other reviewers I wondered where we were going for the first six hours. After I finished the book I went back several times and realized that every sentence in the first half describing a day in the life of the characters had a purpose.
What seemed to be meandering was actually taut and direct. The writing hovers between literature and prose. This one stayed with me for days after I finished it.
I had no trouble losing myself in this book. Descriptions and characters are precisely and comprehensively drawn. The author has skillfully crafted each sentence and it's a real treat to read a book that is so well written. The story stands on it own merit. If you savor good literature and language this book will more than satisfy.
For pure entertainment read Skinny Dip, by Carl Hiaasen. Also a skilled author, his works are fast and fun reads.
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