Atonement by Ian McEwan
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
I started reading Atonement around the time of the film release and just didn’t get it. Last year I decided to give it another go and managed to get hold of a copy on Read It Swap It. I have been looking at it ever since until I picked it up to read last week.
The book is split into a number of parts, each set in a different time or place and told from the point of view of different characters. The first part is set in 1935 at the home of the Tallis family in Surrey, and it is here that we get introduced to the main characters, Briony, Cecilia and Robbie.
Briony is a precocious 13 year old girl who gets into a rage when things don’t go her way and lives in world that is half fantasy. She has great visions of grandeur about herself and seems to get the things in her imagination confused with the real world. Cecilia is her big sister and a university graduate. She seems glamorous and very comfortable with herself, particularly in the scene by the fountain with Robbie. Robbie is the son of the family cleaner and lives in a cottage on their land. He has become something of a project to the girls’ father who has paid for his education and has dreams of going to medical college.
I found the first part of the book a little slow, but wonderfully written. Once I had the time to concentrate on it I couldn’t put it down.
My favourite parts of the book were the parts set in the wartime era. We followed Robbie as he was evacuated from France via Dunkirk in the D-Day landings. This section of the book was heartbreaking and really made you think of the horrors faced by the young men fighting in both of the World Wars. The next part of the book was set in wartime London and gives the reader a different view of the home front and the jobs that women undertook.
Overall, I really loved this book and once I had got into it, couldn’t put it down. It is beautifully written and really pulls you into the world of the characters. I think the story will stay with me for some time and I am extremely glad that I gave it a second chance. A fantastic book.
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