Reader reviews and comments on Atonement, plus links to write your own review.

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Atonement

by Ian McEwan

Atonement by Ian McEwan
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  • First Published:
    Mar 2002, 448 pages
    Paperback:
    Feb 2003, 448 pages

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There are currently 17 reader reviews for Atonement
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Marilou Sprang

Atonement
Atonement is a fantastic and addicting novel that is full of surprising twists and turns. It presents the power of the human imagination and what can happen when our imaginations run wild. McEwan’s imaginative story, complicated characters, and immense detail make this book one of the most powerful books I have read. Because there is so much to be gained from McEwan’s compelling story of 13 year-old Briony, her family, and the events of that summer in 1935 that alter all of their lives forever, Atonement is a must read for everyone!
A Bookshelf Monstrosity

Atonement
I usually make a point of not seeing a movie before I get a chance to read the book, but the opposite is true for my experience with McEwan's Atonement. I rented the movie last summer from Netflix and as soon as the movie ended, I stared at the blank screen for a moment, blinked a couple of times in wonderment, and then hit play and watched it in its entirety a second time. Needless to say, I was completely entranced with the storyline and the cinematography. All of this is to say that after having such a wonderful experience with the movie adaptation, I began to worry that I'd ruined the possibility of having a good reading experience with the novel. I find it difficult to read a book after I've seen the movie since I have so many preconceived notions of the characters' appearance and eccentricities locked into my head visually.

Never fear. I loved the book just as much as the movie. I actually listened to this book, mostly while driving, and I'm quite lucky I didn't wind up in a ditch somewhere due to my complete inattention to my surroundings. I became so wrapped up in the characters, the story, and the heart wrenching consequences of one thirteen-year-old's misinterpretation of a number of events and a rash decision. This was my first foray into Ian McEwan's writing and it definitely won't be the last. I was mesmerized with his writing style. The characters, especially that of the young Briony, were so well-drawn. She is so frustratingly self-absorbed and narcissistic in the beginning of the novel, and her imaginative whims that so many young girls possess lead to such a catastrophic turn of events. I'll say no more. You must read it for yourself.

I don't often reread books anymore due to the sheer quantity of amazing novels out there that I must get my hands on, but I can definitely say this is a book I will revisit, perhaps a few times, in the future.
Marquie

Atonement avalanche
Prodigious! Supreme masterpiece! If novels came with sound effects then each voluptuous sentence within ATONEMENT would burst with class and vivacity!
McEwan wields a glorious prose portraying a bittersweet tale of romance - the atonement of a childish and envious crime, hate to admit this but it really did squeeze sour tears from my eyes when Robbie and Cecilia were separated!
Its amazing how a 13 year old girl's imagination can smash a couple's sweet affair to pieces, Briony Tallis is brilliantly crafted that she seems so real!
mcEwwan's splendid talent sinks us deep into the story plot - we hear each conversation between the characters, each tremble of the breath we hear as our own!
McEwan is a GENIUS..
ATONEMENT is a book for everyone to enjoy!
Margie W

Atonement Review
Atonement is a fantastic love story about childhood friends. It will make you sigh, laugh and maybe even cry. Atonement brings to life the importance of perspective.

One could claim that McEwan was inspired to use World War II as the backdrop to his story because of his own parents love story. At the onset of WWII McEwan’s mother was having an affair with McEwan’s father, but was married to another man. His mother’s husband was killed in combat and she was able to marry her McEwan’s father; Ian McEwan was born several years later.

No one who did not live through a former era can really know what life would have been like, but through the eyes of Cecilia, Robbie, and Briony one gets a very good idea. Atonement is the story of three young people that begins at the family’s country estate in 1935 England. Temperatures and emotions are running high. Through McEwan’s detailed descriptions one can feel the tension in the household. The mood of the house is obvious, you can feel the oppressive heat that causes everything to seem as if in slow motion. At any moment the pretenses could break and all of the pent up emotions could break loose.

[This review has been edited to remove plot spoilers]
J Arnold

A well-crafted story of atonement and abandonment
This well-written book went beyond my expectations. I have tried to read McEwan’s books, but I found myself putting the books down before truly experiencing the magic of his writing. It was his novel Saturday that finally kept my interest and propelled me to explore his other works in earnest. I pick up Atonement to read it before seeing the movie; I am so glad I stayed with this novel. The shifting point of views against the landscapes of pre-WWII England in the first section of the novel read like the doomed love affair of the play “The Trails of Arabella” written by a young Briony. Although the obvious theme is the path of atonement one must travel, it is evident that the theme of abandonment links with the theme of atonement in both the fictitious play and the story that unfolds over the next 60 years. McEwan truly shows his craft has he moves into the early days of WWII in the second and third sections of the book; he also plays with our emotions as he limits the narration to just one character in each section. Although he gives the reader the appearance of a fairy-tale ending like in Briony’s play, the twist in the last section appears to be more than satisfying and realistic. I cannot wait to explore more of his novels and can only hope that they are as well crafted as Atonement and Saturday.
SNM

I LOVED THIS BOOK!!I was just sad when this book ended, I felt that there was so much more stroy left to be told. I loved reading the story from the kids piont of view because most kids never understand what is going on in the world of grown up and so there mind fills in what they don't understand. I was shocked that a grown man could write the ideas and feelings of a 13 year-old girl. This book and its writer are great.
JD

Stay with this novel, beyond the first 50 pages, you will not be disappointed. A memorable book that will stand the test of time.
Balzac Fan

This was an impressive book. It's written so well that it reads like non-fiction. And the end is a pull the rug from out under your feet...leaving you feeling a little tricked. But it is well worth your time and you will like this one. As good as Faulks' Birdsong.
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