Barbwebb1's Reviews > Atonement

Atonement by Ian McEwan
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's review
Jan 05, 2008

really liked it
Read in December, 2007

For me, 'good writing' is complex, but not complicated for its own sake. I appreciate this kind of writing most in plot-driven fiction that still manages time for reflection. But not too self-consciously. Yes, I am picky. This is why I enjoy McEwan's writing so much. Atonement is writerly enough that I am aware of the author's art, but don't see him dancing gleefully around a bonfire celebrating his wordy trickiness. The plot makes for a page-turner, but McEwan's prose is beautiful. The process of writing is even a theme of the book. One of the main characters, a young writer, allows for reflections on plot, abstraction, language, and the relationship between artistic pursuit and real individuals and relationships. But you don't really have to see all that if you don't want to--the story will move you right along.

I particularly enjoyed this book because I was (and am) watching the British series Foyle's War on DVD. I have never known much about the details of England's role in the war and the war's impact on English life and psyche. The continued exploration of the topic in a show like Foyle's War and a book like Atonement make me wonder whether England's public imagination has even yet fully come to terms to the tragedy of horrific episodes like Dunkirk. A naive musing from an American, I know.

Loved Atonement. I recommend it highly.

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