Welcome friends! I have started this entry in the global technosphere because I have been in love with books since the age of 2. Among the busy business of being a new teacher, this is my outlet for sharing thoughts on a love of reading a wide variety of books. My inspiration can be summed up with a yearbook quote from a teacher written when I was 8: "To the only girl at recess I see reading a book. Good for you!"
My blog title is quoted from a classmate who asked me this once. Believe it or not, I've also heard it as a teacher :D

Friday, January 21, 2011

Atonement- Ian McEwan

Purchased:  Amazon | Chapters

Published:  2001
Pages:  372
ISBN:  9780676974560
Genre:  Literary Fiction

Start Date:  Jan. 10, 2011
Finished Date:  Jan. 19, 2011 (10 days)

Where Found:  Chapters-Indigo
Why Read:  Heard lots of positive reviews, and loved the movie.

Summary:  In the summer of 1935, an impressionable young girl makes a poor judgment call about her sister's lover, leading to a series of terrible events that stretch over years and affect all their lives.


I am writing this review very carefully to avoid even minor spoilers as it would completely take away from the unique experience of reading Atonement.  It was written poetically, hauntingly, and delicately, pieced together very precisely, coming full circle as only the best novels do.  At first, Atonement comes across as a tale of British middle class society, reminding me of a modernized Jane Austen.  It took me some time to settle into the author's style, but once the initial fountain incident occured, I was taken with it.  I became anxious about what Briony would do with her perception of this scene, and her shock over what she witnesses in the library.  This decision hung in the air for so long that I became frustrated with the in-between dalliances that deliberately stalled the novel's progression.  In hindsight, this was brilliant storytelling--it made the situations settle, harden & clump into a ball, weighing on you, as it did Briony, and only until you continue reading is it lifted off you.  But the irony is that it doesn't really leave you.

By the end of Part II and into Part III (titled "London 1999"), I had a lump in my throat.  The consequences of Briony's decision at age 13 stay with her for so long that every character she encounters is affected by her choice, and all she can do is imagine how things could have been.

I saw the terrific 2007 movie adaptation with Keira Knightley, James McAvoy, Saoirse Ronan (who was a brilliant young presence) and Vanessa Redgrave before reading the book, so I was aware of the major plot events and ending, but the book had numerous subplots that unmentioned in the film and McEwan's style of writing the story came off very differently than the director's style of filmmaking.  I thought it was very appropriate for the movie to tell the same story but with different brushstrokes that changed the mood that McEwan wrote very specifically.  I would recommend reading the book first as it felt a tad awkward knowing such important parts of the novel, but seeing the movie first did not ruin my experience at all.

Rank:  (A+)- Amazing, A Must-Read!


  1. Great review! I read this a while ago and really enjoyed it. It was such a well written book and the consequences of Briony’s accusation is heart wrenching. I also enjoyed Saturday, but not quite as much. I really need to watch the movie adaptation...

  2. This was my very first McEwan (I've since read most of his work) and I fell in love with his writing. He manages to tell stories in such a simple, yet heartbreaking way, it's wonderful. I'm so glad you loved it too.

  3. I completely agree with your A+ rating! This book was a masterpiece in my opinion. I haven't seen the movie, and I'm not sure if I ever will.

  4. Wonderful review! I fell in love with McEwan's writing in this novel. It was so beautiful. And the story captured my heart as well. I am glad you liked it so much!

  5. I agree. It is an amazing read.

    In my lit class, so many people hated Briony. I pitied her, but I didn't hate her. Yes, she was 13 and old enough to know better, but her perception at 13 would be so different than that of an older girl.

  6. Sold! It's at the top of my list now. Thanks for the suggestion.

  7. THis is one of those McEwan books that I tried to read many times and could never actually get into. I found it really boring. But I kept trying and trying and one day I finally got into it and I loved it!

  8. TwoBibliomaniacs~ I highly recommend the movie. It was very well done. I'm not sure if I'll read more of McEwan's work, unless he comes out with something new. I've never heard of his other books, but if recommended to me, sure :)

    Avid Reader~ I was so taken with the language as well! Heartbreaking is the perfect word for this book.

    Shelley~ I would highly recommend the movie. It is told through a different kind of lens (oof, what a pun) than the book but it's very good.

    Literary Feline~ Thank you!

    Ti~ I didn't hate Briony either though, of course, I didn't like how she pretended to be so sure of herself. I think Lola could have easily been capable of making the same decision as Briony did if their roles were switched, so judging her fatal decision isn't really a cut & dry deal. And I think a 13-year-old, as McEwan alluded to, can be caught in adult issues with an undeveloped, childlike mindset.

    Miss Ash~ You're welcome :) I hope you enjoy it, too.

    Becky~ That's interesting because I wondered about it because Part I is quite different from the last two parts of the novel. The story takes such interesting twists that you get swept away by it. Glad you stuck with it & reaped its rewards :)

  9. I was worried that this might be a 'difficult' read, but your review has reassured me and encouraged me to just go for it!

  10. Sam~ Terrific! I'm glad I could provide that extra nudge. You won't regret it.