A Novel

McEwan, Ian

Book - 2002
Average Rating: 4 stars out of 5.
On the hottest day of the summer of 1935, thirteen-year-old Briony Tallis sees her sister, Cecilia, strip off her clothes and plunge into the fountain in the garden of their country house. Watching her is Robbie Turner, her childhood friend who, like Cecilia, has recently come down 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 not even imagined at its start, and will have become victims of the younger girl's imagination. Briony will have witnessed mysteries and committed a crime that creates in her a sense of guilt that will color her entire life. Ian McEwan has in each of his novels drawn the reader brilliantly into the intimate lives and situations of his characters. But never before has he written on a canvas so large: taking the reader from a manor house in England in 1935, to the retreat to Dunkirk in 1941, to a London hospital soon after where the maimed, broken, and dying soldiers are shipped from the evacuation, to a reunion of the Tallis clan in 1999. Atonement is Ian McEwan's finest achievement. Brilliant and utterly enthralling in its depiction of childhood, love and war. England and class, it is at its center a profound-and profoundly moving-exploration of shame and forgiveness, of atonement and the difficulty of absolution.

Publisher: New York : Nan A. Talese/Doubleday, 2002
Edition: 1st ed. in the United States of America
ISBN: 9780385503952
Branch Call Number: FICTION MCEWAN
Characteristics: 351 p. ;,25 cm


From Library Staff

One hot afternoon, thirteen year old Briony sees her sister and a boy swimming in the fountain of their country home. She constructs a story around the event that will change all three of their lives.

One hot afternoon, thirteen year old Briony sees her sister and a boy swimming in the fountain of their country home. She constructs a story around the event that will change all three of their lives.

An imaginative thirteen-year-old is witness to an event that alters her life.

From the critics

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Nov 19, 2014
  • jazpur rated this: 5 stars out of 5.

Ian Mc Ewan's portrayal of the world of Briony Tallis from 1935, through the years of WWII and beyond is quite brilliant. In modern parlance she was the spoilt, often neglected, highly fanciful afterthought in a large British family with servants who lived in an ugly old mansion with a sprawling garden. She went on to work through the war as a nurse and later became a noted novelist.The ramifications of the lie she told about the incident she saw when she was 13 in 1935 affected so many lives.The characters are entirely believable.The various styles of novel writing all play a part in the development of the story. The title is apt but life is never simple..The novel translated to an excellent film.

Aug 26, 2014


Jul 26, 2014
  • bookworm41 rated this: 1.5 stars out of 5.

Not a bad read, but I found it a little slow in the second part. It's interesting because, in my mind, not alot happens in the book in terms of events, but the reader is given alot to think about. Great for a book club!

Mar 22, 2014
  • Lanny213 rated this: 2 stars out of 5.

This book took me a while to read. The second and third parts were faster than the beginning. There wasn't a nice, neat "wrap up" at the end. I'm looking forward to hearing what other book club ladies think about it.

Mar 11, 2014
  • Library_Lisa rated this: 1 stars out of 5.

I did not enjoy this book. I did, however, find it thoughtful and very well-written.

Mar 05, 2014
  • kendradriscoll rated this: 5 stars out of 5.

It has been several years since I read this book, but it still stays with me. McEwan did a remarkably good job of emulating the internal voice of a fanciful 13-year-old girl. The characters were believable, their actions all too human. Overall, the story was compelling, heartbreaking, and above all aptly named. Well worth reading.

Feb 07, 2014
  • wordpix rated this: 4 stars out of 5.

Complex storyline, very deftly managed. Loved the sleepy, slow first half and the second half that turned to quick narrative. Very well done and a pleasure to read. Glad to have found a new author!

Jun 21, 2013
  • JOE KEEGAN rated this: 4.5 stars out of 5.

This book took awhile to get into, but by the end I really enjoyed it. It's got high level language, and since the author is British, it can sometimes be hard to understand what he is talking about, but I thought it was a great book overall.

Apr 22, 2013
  • Shauna_E rated this: 3.5 stars out of 5.

There are books that are still enjoyable if you've seen the movie. I don't think this is one of them. I would have enjoyed the book much more had I NOT watched the movie first. It took out all the spontaneity and made it a looong read. If you have the option, read the book first. Then watch the movie, which I loved.

Oct 15, 2012
  • lozza1401 rated this: 3 stars out of 5.

Not as good as the movie.

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Sep 15, 2012
  • vchuynh rated this: 3 stars out of 5.

vchuynh thinks this title is suitable for 17 years and over


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