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Atonement

3.89  ·  Rating details ·  390,957 Ratings  ·  15,697 Reviews
Ian McEwan’s symphonic novel of love and war, childhood and class, guilt and forgiveness provides all the satisfaction of a brilliant narrative and the provocation we have come to expect from this master of English prose.

On a hot summer day in 1934, thirteen-year-old Briony Tallis witnesses a moment’s flirtation between her older sister, Cecilia, and Robbie Turner, the son
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Paperback, 351 pages
Published February 25th 2003 by Anchor Books (first published 2001)
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Nela In my opinion, the movie is similar in atmosphere at times, but the book is infinitely better. Plus I don't think that neither Keira Knightley, nor…moreIn my opinion, the movie is similar in atmosphere at times, but the book is infinitely better. Plus I don't think that neither Keira Knightley, nor James McAvoy, nor Romola Garai were good fits for their roles (and I watched the movie before reading the book so that really is saying something).(less)
Ernestas Vascenka I think I read it when I was 15 and it has been my favorite ever since. There's no such thing as "appropriate"
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Manny
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Sarah
Mar 26, 2010 rated it did not like it
It's like To Kill A Mockingbird. Only, instead of a flawed but relatable protagonist, we have a protagonist vilified beyond all reason. Instead of a persecuted minority, we have a horny young man. And instead of Atticus Finch, we have...Ian McEwan. And never, in the history of literature, has anyone worked quite this hard to invalidate the accusatory gaze of young girls.

The "sinner" here is young Briony. And her sin is pride. We see her exposed to sexist and obscene language, violent sex, and a
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Sarah
Nov 15, 2007 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
In World War II England, 13-year-old Briony Tallis misinterprets her older sister’s love affair with their family’s gardener to be something much worse than what it is. Her innocence and partial understanding of the world begins a chain of events that tears the family apart and alters the course of the rest of the girl’s life.

Sounds a little dry, right? Wrong! I guess I forgot to mention that the book was written by Ian McEwan, the king of uncomfortable moments, weird sex stuff, the rotating thi
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Bart
Aug 28, 2007 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: Literary fiction aficionados
That I can remember, I've never before disliked the start of a book so thoroughly, and by the end, gone on to think so much of it as a complete work.

The last 2/3 of this novel are as good as contemporary fiction gets. The first 1/3 is like reading a Jane Austen plot trapped in amber.

As the title indicates Atonement is about a future artist's massive effort to redeem herself for ruining the character of a young man when she is a younger girl. There are parts of this novel that are disjointed - or
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Will Byrnes
Oct 25, 2008 rated it really liked it
Shelves: fiction
I was bored with this until half way through, but then it got interesting. It touches on imagination versus reality, fiction versus fact, in addition to the story content. A portrait of an upper middle class English family is interrupted by a supposed rape in which a young imaginative (vengeful) girl misidentifies the rapist. I found that it stayed with me and that I appreciated it more with time. The film was a magnificent translation.
Lizzy
The subject matter of Atonement is literature itself, but it is much more. First, the writer is one of its characters; second, because Ian McEwan’s novel creates a world where subjectivity and objectivity interfere mutually. The characters are full of life and the language, even if elaborate and subtle, does not go around or makes inroads into itself.

The narrator and protagonist, Briony Tallis, emerges in the beginner as a pre-adolescent that dreams to arrange the world in her texts, as in the p
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Joey Woolfardis
Read as part of The Infinite Variety Reading Challenge, based on the BBC's Big Read Poll of 2003.

The cost of oblivious daydreaming was always this moment of return, the realignment with what had been before and now seemed a little worse.

In the heat of a 1930s Summer, a family reunites at their country home for what may be the last time. Cousins have come to stay, a sister has returned from University and a brother is returning from America with a new friend in tow. Briony, the only child left
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Diane
What a lovely reread this was! I first read this novel almost a decade ago, and the story has stayed with me. The prose is gorgeous, and again I was completely absorbed in this novel.

My favorite character is Briony, the young writer seeking atonement for a mistake she made as a child. And my heart aches for her sister, Cecilia, and her wronged lover, Robbie. I've only read a few of McEwan's books, but I like his writing style so much I want to read more. Highly recommended.

Favorite Quotes
"Was e
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Ahmad Sharabiani
Atonement, Ian McEwan
Atonement is a 2001 British metafiction novel written by Ian McEwan concerning the understanding of and responding to the need for personal atonement. Set in three time periods, 1935 England, Second World War England and France, and present-day England, it covers an upper-class girl's half-innocent mistake that ruins lives, her adulthood in the shadow of that mistake, and a reflection on the nature of writing.
Abstract: On a summer day in 1935, thirteen-year-old Briony Tallis
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Terry
Dec 31, 2007 rated it liked it
This is where a 2.5 star rating would be ideal. I am extremely ambivalent about this novel--first the pluses: the writing is gorgeous; McEwan has some of the best prose out there. Every line has meat to it, nothing is throwaway, and every visual is so vivid that the reader is transported to a specific time and place. Secondly, (what everyone praises the novel for), the commentary McEwan is making about the novel itself--the fact that it is written, that characters and plots are manipulated by th ...more
Allison
Jan 05, 2008 rated it it was ok
Shelves: fiction
I feel that perhaps I have sabotaged this book somewhat as I read it directly after finishing Love In the Time of Cholera, and perhaps in retrospect should have read a poetry book or some non-fiction in between. Clearly anything I would have read after finishing a Masterpiece would pale in comparison but I decided that the critical raves this book had received and high praise from people around me should be enough to encourage me to see it through to the end.

Here is why I found this book lacking
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Martine
Having recently seen and loved the magnificent film adaptation, I decided to reread Atonement, which quite impressed me when it was first published. And guess what? It was an even more rewarding experience the second time around. Knowing what was coming -- knowing the plot twist at the end -- helped me focus on the quality of the writing rather than on the development of the story, and as always, McEwan's prose completely sucked me in. He is, quite simply, one of the most talented authors alive, ...more
Michela De Bartolo
“Tutto ciò che voleva era lavorare, fare un bagno e dormire, finché non fosse stata ora di lavorare di nuovo. Ma era inutile, lo sapeva bene. Per quanto sgobbasse, per quanto umile fosse il lavoro che svolgeva, e per quanto zelo e fatica ci mettesse, per quanto avesse rinunciato a chissà quali illuminazioni intellettuali, a chissà quali insuperabili momenti sul prato di un college, non sarebbe mai riuscita a rimediare al danno. Lei era imperdonabile”.

A dispetto del titolo, non c'è nessuna Espiaz
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Kevin Ansbro
Mar 17, 2016 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: Fans of Brit-trad-lit, lovers of beautiful prose.
A lesson to us all: never put anything in print that one day might come back to bite you in the ass.

Having already seen the movie, I didn't particularly want to read the book (I've never read Mario Puzo's The Godfather, now have I?), but seeing as this book is a modern great, I felt it my duty to drag it from my book cave.
Pleasingly, McEwan writes with aplomb about the human psyche: of lust, loathing, immaturity and guilt; his prose is word perfect.
That said, the novel suffers from its own ident
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Angi M
Jan 31, 2008 added it
**WARNING: Don't read this if you don't want the ending spoiled!**

This book...I hate it! It's beautiful, every word of it is gorgeous, but it's as if the author spends all this time painstakingly crafting a really detailed, intricate vessel for you (I'm thinking of a boat :))and then just before your journey's over he snatches it out from under you & you sink. Why go to such lengths describing the lovers, and the war, and Briony & the nursing when in the end none of it even matters? The
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Matthew
In life, we all make mistakes. Some big, some small, but usually we quickly forget them. But what happens when you make a mistake that haunts you every day and you can do nothing about it?

This book was fantastic. I loved the writing. I loved the characters. They were so well developed I could feel their emotions in myself as I read. I was deeply and truly satisfied by the story and the writing. When I closed the book after the last page I felt like I was sitting back after finishing an amazing m
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Alex Farrand
Feb 04, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Atonement is about a thirteen year-old girl, Briony Tallis, who observed her older sister, and a servant in the most unusual actions that could not be fathomed in a young girl's mind. Briony's, with her amazing imagination, concocted an extraordinary tale that caused an unforgivable crime. Can she repair the damage that changes everyone's lives?

I always wanted this book. After watching the movie, many moons ago, I knew I wanted it. Honestly, I don't remember the film all that well. I remember co
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Kim
Apr 02, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition

This was the favourite novel of a friend of mine who died suddenly a few years ago. She loved it so much that she refused to see the film adaptation because, she said, it couldn't possibly be as good as the novel. I, on the other hand, saw the film without having read the book because when the film was released I was still in the won't-read-McEwan stage of my life that lasted from 1988 or 1989 until two or three years ago.

Anyway, I quite liked the film, or at least it made an impression on me a
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Daniel
Jun 02, 2009 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: first-edition, 2009
Sometimes when I write these reviews, especially when they're of novels with widespread popularity and critical acclaim, I start to feel like a real curmudgeon. Is there anything really wrong with Ian McEwan's “Atonement?” Is it not a compelling story well told? Is the writing not clear, succinct, and free of pretentiousness? Does McEwan not draw the reader into a well-imagined world and hold him there until the last page? The answer to all these questions is yes. Yet still, yet still...

Maybe it
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Nandakishore Varma
I watched the movie before reading the book, which was probably a mistake because I loved the movie and I felt that the book didn't measure up. Which is unfair, I know, but there it is!

What impressed me about the book was the powerful statement the author is making on the power of narrative - how much it rules our lives. It does not matter whether it is true or false: in fact, true or false has no say in it, because for each one of us it is entirely subjective. And when the person in question is
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Duane
When I read a contemporary 21st century novel, especially a really good one, I often wonder, will it become a classic? Will people still be reading it 150 years from now? It's hard to know of course. Occasionally I read one that I think will still be around, will be read and appreciated years from now. Atonement is one of those. The setting, the plot, the time period, the historical aspect, were all perfectly connected. The characters were so real that I felt like I was reading a historical reco ...more
Aishu Rehman
I think it's perfectly fine for any mature enough kid to watch a movie like this. (Maybe not with their parents, how awkward would that be?) Chances are they've already encountered words like 'c**t', and it's only type written so it's not even that bad. I saw this movie . I didn't really like the gruesome army scenes and this movie was just a bit depressing, since the ending wasn't necessarily happy. Other then that I thought the acting was phenomenal and I especially thought the character of Br ...more
Gabrielle
Ah, to be young and bookish and to hate your status as a child… To want to be part of the grown-ups' world, to want to understand their strange actions and their esoteric social codes, which seem so mysterious and sophisticated… As we get older we often realize that none of this is quite as glamorous as we had imagined, and the rear-view mirror of memory can give new meanings to events we thought we understood so well in our youth…

Briony is the youngest child of rather comfortable British family
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Councillor
"Atonement" focuses on tragic events surrounding the Tallis family during the years prior to, during and after the Second World War. Briony Tallis, a thirteen-year-old girl who has a dream of becoming a famous author, witnesses and misunderstands the sexual tension between her older sister Cecilia and the gardener Robbie Turner, with her mistake leading to years of remorse, hate, solitude – and atonement. One might think this is a concept too unpromising for a full-length story, lacking any furt ...more
Panagiotis
May 19, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Πήγαινε για τριάρι, στην αρχή. Μια γραφή πυκνή, να σχολιάζει τα πάντα, κάθε κίνηση, κάθε υπαινιγμό και ιριδισμό των χαρακτήρων του. Δεν ήταν άσχημη, όχι. Άπαξ και την συνήθιζες, είχε κάτι το παιγνιώδες τελικά. Μακριά από τον διδακτισμό, αντιμετώπιζε τους ανθρώπους ως πλάσματα προς παρατήρηση. Σα να έχουν μπει στο μικροσκόπιο. Κανείς δεν γλύτωνε, κανείς δεν εξωραϊζόταν. Μα, τελικά, το βιβλίο αυτό ακριβώς λέει: όσο νεαρός και αν είσαι, διεκδικώντας την συμπόνοια και την αγάπη ολάκερου του κόσμου, ...more
Kelly
Nov 12, 2007 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: those who like character studies, chamber dramas, and psych
Is there word beyond 'amazing' that I can use? Some word beyond 'enthralling'? I need them. I'm reaching for them. But I literally just finished the book and I'm so much in awe of it I just can't. It's perfect. It's perfect in every image and line and mirror and echo. Ian McEwan is such a master of language and storycraft.

I devoured this book in a day. Less than a day. Ignoring all other work to do so. And it was TOTALLY worth it.

I can't think of what to praise first this point, so I'm going to
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Julie
Apr 04, 2017 rated it it was amazing
What a strange and powerful novel, one that begins its story with a quote from Jane Austen's Northanger Abby.

Why? Because Ms. Austen was the master of comparing the controlled, domestic world of the home with that of the chaotic, spontaneous world of the outside, the unknown.

Mirroring this idea, the self-centered 13-year-old Briony Tallis wonders early in McEwan's story, "Was that really all there was in life, indoors or out?"

Yes, Briony, that's all there really is. Oh, except one more thing. .
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Helene Jeppesen
Mar 11, 2017 rated it really liked it
Wow, this book was really good but on different levels. The first half gives us an intense story about a family who lives in some kind of a mansion in England. Briony, Cecilia and the other family members are peculiar characters that give you a feeling that trouble is stirring under the surface.
The second half of the book takes a turn for the more serious, and while this part had its enchanting moments, it was the first part I loved the most. Maybe it's because I've watched the movie (which see
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Annalisa
Feb 12, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: book club
There are so many angles and perceptions to consider in this book. Sometimes the end can make a book and that is certainly the case here where the story is left open for interpretation. This is a book that leaves you thinking and considering, making up your own conclusions--and strong enough characters to make you want to.

The first few chapters I did find my mind wandering through lengthy descriptions (I'll call it beautiful, poetic scenery), and yet that scenery set a lackadaisical feel vital t
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Cecily
A beautifully written and cleverly told story of relationships, growing up, guilt and, obviously, atonement and forgiveness. The essence of the story is how a childish mistake, made in good faith (more or less) can have consequences for many people, for many years.

Although it would be better to read this before watching the film, I’d heard that the book had been thought unfilmable and so was pretty different, which ensured I was alert to reading it with fresh eyes.

Part 1 is perhaps not quite a
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Around the Year i...: Atonement, by Ian McEwan 21 130 Oct 08, 2018 02:57PM  
I HATED this movie is the book worth reading? 324 2004 Sep 13, 2018 12:39PM  
Asti's AP Lit & C...: Question 1: Justice 19 21 Aug 24, 2018 09:07PM  
Asti's AP Lit & C...: Question 3: Bildungsroman 19 17 Aug 24, 2018 08:40PM  
Asti's AP Lit & C...: Question 2: Deception 22 19 Aug 24, 2018 08:18PM  
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Play Book Tag: Atonement - Ian McEwan - 3 stars 11 22 May 27, 2018 07:06AM  
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Ian McEwan studied at the University of Sussex, where he received a BA degree in English Literature in 1970 and later received his MA degree in English Literature at the University of East Anglia.

McEwan's works have earned him worldwide critical acclaim. He won the Somerset Maugham Award in 1976 for his first collection of short stories First Love, Last Rites; the Whitbread Novel Award (1987) and
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“A person is, among all else, a material thing, easily torn and not easily mended.” 1636 likes
“It wasn't only wickedness and scheming that made people unhappy, it was confusion and misunderstanding; above all, it was the failure to grasp the simple truth that other people are as real as you.” 908 likes
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