What readers think of Atonement, plus links to write your own review.

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by Ian McEwan

Atonement by Ian McEwan X
Atonement by Ian McEwan
  • Critics' Opinion:

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  • First Published:
    Mar 2002, 448 pages

    Feb 2003, 448 pages


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There are currently 17 reader reviews for Atonement
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Al Topping

Atonement is a worthy read…. But do take care, I suspect Ian McEwan has crafted a wonderful shaggy dog story….

What an incredible and well written tale! It's amazing to me that a middle aged man can portray the inner workings of an adolescent female with such exactitude. Odviously, I was smitten from the very first chapter. But there is so much more...such intricacy and nuance! There is no comparison, in my mind, between this and Amsterdam. The latter novel pales in comparison.

Second in Excellence to Enduring Love -- The audiobooks create the movies I hope to see.

McEwan's manipulation of situations ensconces the reader in a delicate plethora of high art grammar. Simply, it's great!

MASTERFUL! This book leads you through a tangle of lives and loves and wartime scenes that are devastating to read. McEwan has reached his zenith in ATONEMENT. A far cry from the dark and often dreary portrayals of AMSTERDAM!

If you are going to read McEwan, do read this book first!

Atonement Book Review
There was a crime. But there were also the lovers. This line from the final pages of Atonement by Ian McEwan accurately and succinctly describes the story. Atonement is a book that doesn't really seem like it would go together, but it does. It is a love story, a war story, and is full of suspense and adventure. The many different parts and the way they fit together are what make the book so good.

[deleted because of plot spoilers] Ian McEwan was born soon after the end of World War II, and I think that his father, who was a Scottish Army Officer, may have had some influence on McEwan's obvious interest in the war. His stories of the retreat from Dunkirk seem real, and indicate that he has either done a lot of research, or knows a lot of war stories, or both. The plot of this book is full of twists and surprises, and it is not your typical love story. It is much more complex, and it talks about social changes, moral decisions, consequences, and class tension in a way that is not boring or pretentious. Once you begin reading, the suspense of the plot will draw you in. Once I began reading, I did not put the book down, because I wanted to see who had really committed the crime. Each of the sections fits together even though they are very different, and the book flows smoothly. At first I disliked Briony because she made a very serious decision without getting all the facts or looking at the real-world consequences. At the end of the book, I still don't think she did enough, but at least she put in an effort, and the things that happened were a result of an unlucky combination of factors. While I didn't like Briony, I do have to admit that she is real. Or, at least, she seems to be real, which is part of the book's charm and appeal. I could see parts of myself in each character, which drew me in and made me more interested in their fates.This book is AMAZING, and each of the characters has their own quirks and passions. The story seems real, and is very descriptive, which is liked because I could visualize the places and people.

This is a great book for many different audiences because of its wide variety of subjects, which are all realistic. They include everything from love, sex and family relationships to war, death, and ill fated mistakes.
Amy M

Good but not without fault
I did really enjoy this book, even if I felt that the author was and is the most pretentious pompous ass I have read. It seemed to me that he must have been getting paid per word and not for the book because why else would there be a very, very large amount of run-on sentences!! I mean get real buddy this is simple things that you learn in English class in the 3rd grade! I found that the massive use of unnecessary words distracted from the story itself and it also was that way in the movie. There was A LOT of just walking and waiting that really could have been shortened. I do have to say that it was a book that I couldn’t put down but I don’t feel that it was only because of wanting to know what happened but it was also so I would be able to stay in the grove of just plowing through the heavy unnecessary wordiness of it all. I felt that McEwan was trying to show us all how smart he was and how well he could use a dictionary instead of working more on the story. I felt that in the end all that it did was to in fact take away from an amazing story! I would have preferred to have more of the story put before me and less of the colour of the sky at all times of the day! I really enjoyed the way that young Briony is unable to understand what she sees and in fact it would seem to me that not even Cecelia or Robbie are able to take it all in. I love the way you can see how all of their minds work throughout the story and how they will always have to rely on their own discernment of the chain of events that shaped their lives into what they were. I’m not sure that there is ever really any atonement in the end but is there ever really any? Everyone has things that they did that were wrong and wish that they could change them but there is in fact a point that no matter what you cannot apologize for the past. I did enjoy that no matter how you want the story to end you will be happy and yet sad at the same time as is true with all things in life!
Power Reviewer
Cloggie Downunder

For me, Ian McEwan’s book, Atonement, was mistitled. I think a better title would have been “How to profit from ruining others’ lives”. I was prepared to give this book a chance. A slow start, but good use of language, beautifully written, characters to love and hate and what seemed like a good story until the rather grim ending, which made a complete lie of the blurb on the back: “Briony will have witnessed mysteries, and committed a crime for which she will spend the rest of her life trying to atone”. If doing a bit of wartime nursing and then writing the story of your crime after all the people to whom it might matter have died, first changing the ending so that it will be more acceptable to the reader, then Briony’s definition of atonement is something different from the accepted one. “Atonement: amends or reparation made for an injury or wrong”. I felt cheated by the ending for the time I spent on this book. Guess I don't need to try any more by Ian McEwan!
Jeff Cohen

I found the book lacked some of the intellectual hype surrounding it. The first section mimiced the best of stately British novels but the war sequence was hyperbolic and failed to draw me in sufficently. The third second intrigued me but the ending seemed an immature form of questioning all forms of atonement
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