Wednesday, March 5, 2008

Atonement by Ian McEwan

The older I get, the more like my mother I become. It's scary to discover such things about yourself! When I got to the end of this novel, I cried. And when I tried to tell Ben about the book, I found myself choked up again. Is there something about getting older or becoming a mother that makes one more emotional?

Atonement is one of the best novels I have read in awhile. The first section starts off rather slow, but it sets up the last three excellent sections. Section 1 tells the story of young thirteen year old Briony Tallis. She is starting to become a writer by writing a play for her young cousins to perform for her brother and his friend Paul Marshall. Meanwhile, she witnesses several scenes between her elder sister Cecilia and Robbie Turner that she misinterprets. Cecilia and Robbie went to Cambridge together, but Robbie (the son of the housekeeper) is back working as a gardener for the summer. The flames of love have ignited through these events, but tragedy strikes as Briony accuses Robbie of a terrible crime.

Part 2 is during WWII and the Battle of Dunkirk. I knew nothing about this retreat. It was very realistically written, and I couldn't put it down. Part 3 is also a realistic portrayal of Briony as a young nurse in London during WWII. As an 18-year old, Briony realizes that she had made a mistake as a child and tries to atone for it. Part 4 is in 1999 when Briony is an old lady. This is the part that brought me to tears, but I can't really discuss it without ruining the novel for those who haven't read it yet.

I liked the novels approach to the story of a Briony as a young writer with a vivid imagination. It only took a twist of this imagination for Briony to ruin two other lives, but it also only takes a twist of her imagination to bring the lovers back together again. That's probably saying too much, but I really liked this prospective.

I can't wait to see the movie. I'm on the library list - but it will probably be a few months!

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