Wednesday, February 18, 2009


Alright, done with my first book of 2009, Ian McEwan's Atonement! Ok, firstly I was very bad and watched the movie first. I loved the film, although the only reason I cried was because they were shooting the horses on the beach. And maybe a little at the end. I was not sure what to expect from this book; I had never read anything else by McEwan before.

The book is told in three parts and from different points of view. We get the background of the Tallis family and their garden boy Robbie Turner. He and Cecilia's relationship is missinterpretted by her sister Briony with catastophic results. On the whole the novel had a modern Austen feel; the depth and detail that McEwan puts into his characters makes it easy for one to loose themselves in this world.

I personally find it very interesting to read about people during World War II. In Atonement, you get to see the war's effects on Robbie and also the efforts of Briony who becomes a nurse in London. I think that our generation has a hard time conceptualizing the amount of sacrifice and hardships that people used to go through during wartime. For many the only major inconvience now is if a news report or Presidential message interrupts So You Think You Can Dance. Briony's (and Cecilia's) choice to become a nurse makes me wonder how many girls I know would rush to do the same. Not many I think.

Briony's love of writing also holds great interest to me. But what I loved most about the novel is the end. She writes a neat happy ending to her tale and wonders to herself what purpose could have been served by telling the truth. The reality of Robbie and Cee is not a happy one. Her stories (if we can assume from the bits of the ones we are told of) all seem to end neatly. I think that McEwan's choice not to end the story with a happily ever after was the right choice. We get more of a scope of Briony's long standing guilt and sadness over the loss of her sister. We can relate to sadness, death, and seemily eternal sufferrig; not many can look at a happy ending and say "oh that's just like me."

My favorte line from the novel, as told in Briony's section of working as a nurse:
"From this new an dintimate perspective, she learned a simple, obvious thing she had always known, and everyone knew: that a person is, among all else, a material thing, easily torn, not easily mended." ~page 287.

I love McEwan's writing style; I cannot wait to read another work by him.

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