Margot's Reviews > Atonement

Atonement by Ian McEwan
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's review
Aug 06, 2010

really liked it
bookshelves: favorites
read count: 2

I just love "Atonement". First, you have to admit that the composition of the novel is a piece of art. Ian McEwan succeeded in making a book with different timelines and point of views. The mise-en-abîme is just amazing and perfectly mastered. A story in a story, in a story... That's really impressive in my opinion.

Now let's talk about the characters. Briony Tallis. So much things to say about her. She is quite unlikeable at the beginning of the novel. She is stubborn, haughty, and most of all, she thinks that she knows everything better than anybody. Her self-confidence and the fact that she trusts her thoughts are the two main reasons of the huge mistake she is going to make. The other reason is obviously jealousy.
Cecilia... Well, I like Cecilia but not so much. She is lazy, a little haunty as well. But I kind of like appreciate her nonchalance and her will to ignore social ladder and codes. It's quite interesting actually that I don't like many of the characters. I just realize it and it's quite interesting. They all have something unpleasant and disturbing in one way, even the cousins, particularly Lola.
Robby is the exception. Maybe it's the point of the novel to show that the one who has nothing to be blamed for is the one who is incriminated. I like him. I like the way he is conscious of his feelings with Cecilia but not saying anything, just like he knew that it was impossible. Or maybe he just wants her to make the first step. Robby is a very complex character and even after reading the book twice, he still remains a mystery for me. But I like it.

I love the mood of the novel, and the setting. I can imagine the light of the warm afternoon in the english countryside. The laziness caused by the heat and the taste of tea in a cup of porcelain... The scene in the library is so intense but in fact I prefer the scene near the fountain. I think that this passage between Cecilia and Robby is really beautiful, conflicted and rich of sense.
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Margot I agree with you. The moral of the book is really blurred I think and it's often the case in Ian McEwan's books. I have read "Saturday" which is not as good as "Atonement" and the book is quite tricky as well. I mean... at the end of the book, you can't really decide if the vilains were really bad or if you can find some excuses for their behavior and in the same way, some "good" characters can be blamed. So, I think it's almost the same in "Atonement"; right/wrong, good and evil are quite subtly entangled.

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