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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 (1270 )
5 star
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4.1 (521 )
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4.2 (523 )
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Performance
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  •  
    DJM Pasadena, CA United States 11-27-07
    DJM Pasadena, CA United States 11-27-07 Member Since 2013
    HELPFUL VOTES
    28
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    293
    6
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    Overall
    "Patience Rewarded"

    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.

    1 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    M.W. SW USA 02-17-04
    M.W. SW USA 02-17-04 Member Since 2009
    HELPFUL VOTES
    211
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    365
    191
    FOLLOWERS
    FOLLOWING
    14
    19
    Overall
    "I give up, too."

    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.

    6 of 12 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Patti Philomath, OR, USA 12-20-03
    Patti Philomath, OR, USA 12-20-03
    HELPFUL VOTES
    6
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    4
    1
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    FOLLOWING
    0
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    Overall
    "I give up!"

    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.

    6 of 14 people found this review helpful
  •  
    04-07-08
    04-07-08 Member Since 2011
    HELPFUL VOTES
    1
    ratings
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    3
    1
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    Overall
    "Lost in the details..."

    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.

    1 of 3 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Douglas New York, NY, USA 02-28-08
    Douglas New York, NY, USA 02-28-08
    HELPFUL VOTES
    28
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    19
    6
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    Overall
    "Not his best"

    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.

    1 of 3 people found this review helpful
  •  
    mary j aboughadareh 08-21-07
    HELPFUL VOTES
    196
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    358
    92
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    12
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    Overall
    "Interesting"

    I enjoyed Atonement. It had a few little twists and turns and a surprise or two.

    2 of 6 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Emily Reinhold 05-16-10 Member Since 2011
    HELPFUL VOTES
    62
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    104
    52
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    1
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    Overall
    "Good but so is the Movie."

    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.

    0 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    05-16-10
    05-16-10 Listener Since 2008
    HELPFUL VOTES
    283
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    333
    144
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    21
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    Overall
    "Atonement"

    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.

    0 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Kathy Davies Georgia, USA 08-19-09
    Kathy Davies Georgia, USA 08-19-09 Member Since 2008
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    33
    1
    Overall
    "Great writing, fun reader"

    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.

    0 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Margarita Irving, TX, USA 07-25-09
    Margarita Irving, TX, USA 07-25-09
    HELPFUL VOTES
    68
    ratings
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    47
    15
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    6
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    Overall
    "Love The Book"

    The story is very poignant - but feels very real. I have loved the book even before the film came out - which was unusually true to the book. That was quite surprising. I've always been interested in Mr. McEwan's books as they are a very good study of human behavior in the direst of situations.

    0 of 1 people found this review helpful

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