Book Review: Atonement

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Prof. Gustavo Flores
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Book Review: Atonement

Post by Prof. Gustavo Flores » Mon Aug 14, 2017 7:34 am

Book Title: Atonement
Author: Ian McEwan
Series: N/A
Genre: Drama

I loved this book and really enjoyed reading it! I watched the movie when it first came out in 2007 and knew that it was a book I had to read. It took me several years to find the book and then a couple of years more to finally grab it and read it, a decision I don’t regret!

Atonement is the story of Briony Tallis, a 13 year old girl who enjoys to write. When she sees her sister Cecilia in what she believes an improper situation with the housekeeper’s son, Robbie Turner, out in the fountain of her house, her writer mind starts to create an story that she believes to be true, based only on assumptions and not real facts. That same night, using as evidence a letter and another compromising scene between Robbie and Cecilia, Briony accuses Robbie of a crime he didn’t commit, changing completely the course of life Robbie and Cecilia in ways she could never have imagined. Years after, this memory and her remorse will continue to haunt her.

The novel is divided in 3 parts and an epilogue. Part 1 got me completely hooked! It is the narration of the main event of the story in which Briony sees Robbie and Cecilia and later accuses him. What I liked the most of part 1 was that the same event was told from the perspective of different characters, so the story moves on through different narrative voices (Briony, Cecilia, Robbie, the mother, etc.), and I found that pretty enriching. Part 2 was the one I liked the least because it focused on Robbie and the war, but then Part 3 was great again because it focuses on Briony five years later, how she feels of the accusation she had done, and what she is trying to do to make up for her mistake.

It is really interesting how a lie can cause such damage, and that is the beauty of the book. Like Robbie said “He had told himself, he and Cecilia had told each other, over and over again. Yes, she was just a child. But not every child sends a man to prison with a lie. Not every child is so purposeful and malign, so consistent over time, never wavering, never doubted”. Right there you see the great impact of what Briony did, the great impact of Briony’s crime eventhough she was just a child.

Finally the epilogue ties the whole story perfectly fine and in an unexpected way. For the first time, the author uses the first person to make Briony speak, and then by the end, by the very end, I can’t help but feel so sad and so sorry for Briony, and even feel compassion for her although the things she did were so wrong. Her look for atonement, her eternal remorse, her punishment…what a story!!!!
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