Friday, January 26, 2007

Atonement - Ian McEwan

This was not an easy book to read. It is in three parts, of which I found the first to be the most difficult to get through. By difficult I mean slow, detailed, and plodding. There is very little dialogue throughout the book. Most of the writing consists of the characters' inward thoughts and feelings.

It is a story about Briony, who at 13 years old accuses a family friend of a horrible crime. This occurs in Part 1, which takes up half the book. The aftermath of that accusation, along with the characters' involvement in World War II make up Parts 2 and 3. I don't like reading about war, but I actually liked this part of the book the most. That was a surprise to me. By the end, Briony is 77 and reflecting on her life events and how they have affected her family.

Overall, I didn't enjoy this book very much, but I am glad I read it. I'll probably read at least one more book by this author before passing a final judgment.
2002, 351 pp.
NBCC - 2002

Rating: 3.5/5


Les said...

I'm sorry you were disappointed with this book. It was one of my favorites (made my Top Ten) several years ago. But I know a lot of my friends didn't care for it either, including my husband (who didn't even bother reading the whole thing). If you want to try another by McEwan, I recommend Saturday.

Nyssaneala said...

Hey, saw your post over at the Yahoo TBR Challenge. I read Atonement last year, and pretty much had the same impression you had. I really did not like Briony.

Framed said...

I had this on list as well as Saturday and took Saturday off. It does sound long and dreary.

jenclair said...

I was so disappointed with this book. I didn't like any of the characters and nitpicked all the way through.

John Self said...

This is widely regarded as McEwan's best, so if you didn't like it much then I wouldn't expect you to get much joy from his others. If your comments on Roth's Everyman indicated a distaste for sexual descriptions in fiction, then avoid McEwan's The Cement Garden, On Chesil Beach, The Comfort of Strangers and First Love, Last Rites.

Re the comments some have made about not liking the characters: I have never thought this to be an essential component of enjoying a book. Is it well written? is about the only question which matters to me. I think McEwan's books generally very well written.