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Atonement | [Ian McEwan]

Atonement

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.
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Publisher's Summary

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.

What the Critics Say

  • Book Sense Book of the Year Award Finalist, Adult Fiction, 2003

"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)

What Members Say

Average Customer Rating

3.9 (1080 )
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4.1 (361 )
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4.2 (365 )
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Performance
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  •  
    Suzanne H NYC 11-09-07
    Suzanne H NYC 11-09-07 Member Since 2004
    HELPFUL VOTES
    27
    ratings
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    192
    21
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    "Beautiful book"

    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!

    7 of 8 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Rebecca 10-24-05
    Rebecca 10-24-05
    HELPFUL VOTES
    48
    ratings
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    182
    37
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    FOLLOWING
    2
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    Overall
    "Impressive"

    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_.

    7 of 8 people found this review helpful
  •  
    MasterMarquette Palm Springs, CA United States 12-30-12
    MasterMarquette Palm Springs, CA United States 12-30-12

    Karim Marquette

    HELPFUL VOTES
    16
    ratings
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    7
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    Performance
    Story
    "Different from the Movie"
    Any additional comments?

    Atonement is one of my favorite films. The book is also wonderful, but the visuals of the film are stupendous. The book is quite different than the film in some areas, but not significantly. The description of what happened at Dunkirk is especially moving. How easy it is to forget the sacrifice made by so many young men. This book reminds one of the incredible devastation of war.

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Barry Petaluma, CA, United States 07-21-12
    Barry Petaluma, CA, United States 07-21-12 Member Since 2006

    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.

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Best book I've read in the last 5 years"

    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.

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Patti Chittenango, NY, United States 10-26-09
    Patti Chittenango, NY, United States 10-26-09 Member Since 2003
    HELPFUL VOTES
    599
    ratings
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    504
    286
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    Overall
    "Not The Best"

    I found this book confusing to follow and very boring. There was some merit to the story, but it dragged on in too much detail unnecessarily at times.

    5 of 6 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Carole Philadelphia, PA, USA 02-22-08
    Carole Philadelphia, PA, USA 02-22-08
    HELPFUL VOTES
    2
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    13
    1
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    "Very slow"

    Perhas the movie will hold my interest. This seemed to take forever and frought in small insignifcant details.

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Kenneth Mantua, NJ, USA 05-10-05
    Kenneth Mantua, NJ, USA 05-10-05
    HELPFUL VOTES
    11
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    10
    4
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    Overall
    "Literary Yoga"

    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!

    5 of 6 people found this review helpful
  •  
    03-24-08
    03-24-08 Member Since 2006
    HELPFUL VOTES
    165
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    155
    23
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    4
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    Overall
    "I loved this book"

    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.

    4 of 5 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Peter Port Matilda, Panama 01-19-08
    Peter Port Matilda, Panama 01-19-08 Member Since 2007
    HELPFUL VOTES
    8
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    20
    4
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    "McEwan at his best"

    Not a great fan of McEwan even after reading Enduring Love but I adored the way this was read, the way he writes and as a Brit living in America I could taste the English countryside, hear the sounds of winter bird song and feel the passion of two loyal lovers. No hesitation in recommending this to all that appreciate literature and a good "listen".

    4 of 5 people found this review helpful
  •  
    D Peekskill, NY, USA 05-07-06
    D Peekskill, NY, USA 05-07-06 Member Since 2001
    HELPFUL VOTES
    196
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    53
    9
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    3
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    Overall
    "Painful"

    I kept asking why did the author bother to write this book? (and why am I bothering to listen to it?) Slow, goes no where! Painful! Try the abridged version - I wish I had!

    4 of 5 people found this review helpful
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