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Atonementby Ian McEwan
2002 National Book Critics Circle Award for Fiction
2001 Booker Prize Shortlist
A young girl sees her older sister and a man in a situation she doesn't understand, and subsequently makes an accusation that changes the course of all three lives. This is a study of a life-long search for forgiveness and atonement. McEwan is at his best here. An amazing and excellent book!
"This twist, this revelation, further emphasizes the novel's already explicit ambivalence about being a novel, and makes the book a proper postmodern artifact, wearing its doubts on its sleeve, on the outside, as the Pompidou does its escalators. But it is unnecessary....because the fineness of the book as a novel, as a distinguished and complex evocation of English life before and during the war, burns away the theoretical, and implants in the memory a living, flaming presence." James Wood, The New Republic (read the entire New Republic review)
Synopses & Reviews
On the hottest day of the summer of 1935, thirteen-year-old Briony Tallis sees her older sister Cecilia strip off her clothes and plunge into the fountain in the garden of their country house. Watching Cecilia is their housekeepers son Robbie Turner, a childhood friend who, along with Brionys sister, has recently graduated from Cambridge.
By the end of that day the lives of all three will have been changed forever. Robbie and Cecilia will have crossed a boundary they had never before dared to approach and will have become victims of the younger girls scheming imagination. And Briony will have committed a dreadful crime, the guilt for which will color her entire life.
In each of his novels Ian McEwan has brilliantly drawn his reader into the intimate lives and situations of his characters. But never before has he worked with so large a canvas: In Atonement he takes the reader from a manor house in England in 1935 to the retreat from Dunkirk in 1941; from the Londons World War II military hospitals to a reunion of the Tallis clan in 1999.
Atonement is Ian McEwans finest achievement. Brilliant and utterly enthralling in its depiction of childhood, love and war, England and class, the novel is at its center a profound-and profoundly moving-exploration of shame and forgiveness and the difficulty of absolution.
"Moving deftly between styles, this is a compelling exploration of guilt and the struggle for forgiveness." Library Journal
"A beautiful and majestic fictional panorama." John Updike, The New Yorker
"Not since the 19th century has a writer stepped in and out of his characters' minds with such unfettered confidence." The Plain Dealer
"Ian McEwan's latest novel is probably his finest yet. His stories emanate from the out-of-the-ordinary occurrences that would, however, be less dramatic if they were perceived to be so. But McEwan is fascinated with the workings of perception and with how one person's molehill is another's mountain...." Laurice Taitz, Sunday Times, South Africa
"No one now writing fiction in the English language surpasses Ian McEwan." The Washington Post Book World
"McEwan at his most closely observed and psychologically penetrating, and his most sweeping and expansive....With each book McEwan ranges wider, and his powers have never been more fully in evidence than here." Publishers Weekly
"Magical....A love story, a war story, and a story about stories, and so it hits the heart, the guts and the brain." The New York Observer
"Astonishing....[with] one of the most remarkable erotic scenes in modern fiction....[It] is something you will never forget." Chicago Tribune
In this rich novel by the author of the Booker Prize-winning novel "Amsterdam, " a young girl unwittingly tells a tale that turns her family upside down. Brilliant and utterly enthralling in its depiction of childhood, love and war, England and class, "Atonement" is at its center a profound--and profoundly moving--exploration of shame and forgiveness, of atonement and the difficulty of absolution.
About the Author
Ian McEwan has written two collections of stories, First Love, Last Rites and In Between the Sheets, and eight novels, The Cement Garden, The Comfort of Strangers, The Child in Time — winner of the 1987 Whitbread Novel of the Year Award — The Innocent, Black Dogs, The Daydreamer, Enduring Love, and Amsterdam — winner of the 1998 Booker Prize.
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