By: Ian McEwan
(Paperback / 368 Pages / Anchor Books / ISBN: 038572179X / $14.00)
Description:Ian McEwan’s symphonic novel of love and war, childhood and class, guilt and forgiveness provides all the satisfaction of a brilliant narrative and the provocation we have come to expect from this master of English prose. On a hot summer day in 1935, thirteen-year-old Briony Tallis witnesses a moment’s flirtation between her older sister, Cecilia, and Robbie Turner, the son of a servant and Cecilia’s childhood friend. But Briony’s incomplete grasp of adult motives–together with her precocious literary gifts–brings about a crime that will change all their lives.
Verdict:'Atonement' is a complex, at times difficult, read and is not for everyone. McEwan has an immense vocabulary and does not present the story the way the typical bestselling author does. The reader must be very patient, but 'Atonement' is well worth the read. Those readers who gallop through novels - or rather skate over their surfaces - or even throw them away half-read when they become too difficult, should be warned that this one demands some thought and attention. Those who find the criminal conviction in this story "improbable" need to remember when the story is set. Actually it's all too likely, given the "victim" and the significance of class in pre-war England. In any case, many people (e.g., Kennedy cousin Michael Skakel) are still being convicted of rape or murder on far less evidence. This book's brilliant design does not emerge until the final pages, and its full power comes only upon reflection. So bring something along or you'll miss the parade.
Reviewed by Russell A. Trunk