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)
I really wanted to like this book -- I had heard such good things about it, and heard it was being made into a film. I gave it the obligatory 50 pages, and just couldn't get into it. (I alternate listening and reading.) But If the story hasn't started by then, I can't get into it. I realize the author was doing extensive character development, but something needs to happen to hook me early on, and I didn't find the characters enough to keep me interested. So I did something I rarely do... I put it down.
This was my first by the author and the start was a little slow for my taste. The story takes place in a very unfamiliar social setting, which can be a rather frustrating to the uninitiated. The writing is beautiful, however, and it was well worth the effort and patience to see it through to the end.
I could never get out of the starting block with this book. After about 2-3 hours I found myself looking for a semi-decent radio station (now THAT is desperation.) I didn't have any interest in the characters, and there was certainly no action (or even movement) to fall back on. I can't recommend this one.
I tried (twice!) to get into this book, but both times I gave up after 5 or 6 hours. I'm not sure why I even gave it that much of my time. It just didn't grab my interest at all.
The prose was so flowery and detailed, I almost didn't make it through the entire thing. I rarely say this, but I'm betting the movie will be better.
The story proceeded a little slowly and did not come to a suspenseful climax as much as a long unwinding. It is not entirely out of character, I believe, since the other book of McEwan's I have read (The Innocent) was also deliberately written, if more exciting.
The reading is also good, and certainly does not interfere with your enjoyment.
Most people know that this novel was made into a movie with the same name. I watched the movie long before I listened to the book. I would recommend reading/listening to the book before watching the movie. A huge amount of the suspense was taken away from the listening experience and I would argue that the surprising events that take place in the story are really what makes the novel so great. The author is very detailed in his descriptions which make the main events of the story very well flushed out and easy to visualize. The great detail as well makes the not-so-important events of the story especially boring and difficult to get through. I give the book 3 stars because it is a good story but I would probably just recommend watching the movie and skipping the book.
Good book and the narrative accent was not detracting to me but it is not a light story. It is not a story you can follow easily but may have to rewind and listen again to follow.
I thoroughly enjoyed the writing style of this book and the reader, as well. Although the plot seems to wander a bit, the masterful prose made every minute enjoyable.
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