Thursday, August 9, 2007
Atonement by Ian McEwan is the sort of book that has pages of international praise inside the cover and sits on the bestseller shelves at Barnes and Noble for weeks at a time. The sort of book all the bookgroups are reading and the sort of book I generally avoid for a long time, but often wind up reading once the storm has died down. This is a bit embarrassing to admit, but I'll be honest here and tell you that what finally pushed me to pick this up off of my shelf was the trailer for the film adaption coming out later this year. It looked like a film I would enjoy and I would rather have read the book first than the other way around.
Atonement is a book about misunderstandings and how people perceive things differently. In the book, a young girl, Briony misconstrued multiple situations which ultimately leads to tragedy for multiple families. Part of the misunderstanding involves a note. I am very aware of men writing about women and it struck me that the event that occurred after the intended (Cecilia) received the note would only happen in a book written by a man, sort of a male fantasy. As a woman, I find it hard to imagine most women having the same reaction Cecelia has.
I enjoyed this book and thought it very well written, but I didn't love it. I never felt emotionally connected to it except for feeling so much anger towards Briony. I was fortunate to have longer stretches of time to read this novel, and felt that was the best way to read it. I don't know if I would have gotten very far if I'd had to keep putting it down. The last section of the novel helps to explain the rest of the book and why the previous three sections are so different from one another. There is a sort of 'twist' in the ending which I have encountered in at least one other book. I did not appreciate it in that previous book (The Last Time They Met by Anita Shreve in case you are wondering) however I thought it was better executed here, and I could appreciate it more.
I would still like to see the film version when it comes out and I am interested to see how it has been adapted, particularly in light of the ending.