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Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Atonement - Ian McEwan

Read for the TBR Lite Challenge.

When 13-year-old Briony witnesses the flirtation between her older sister Cecelia, and Robbie, the son of their housekeeper, she thinks that by witnessing this act, she’s finally crossed over in the world of adulthood. Unfortunately, her lack of adult understanding of what she has seen causes her to commit a crime that has repercussions effecting the remainder of the lives of all involved.

I loved this book. The first section, set in 1935, in the Tallis family country house, where everything reflects Briony’s innocence, is beautifully written, and so perfectly paired with the story of Briony’s naivete leading her astray. The remainder of the book is set five years later, in the midst of World War II. Briony has finally grown up, and realized the depths of her transgression, and the entire world is plunged into turmoil as she is.

But it’s the afterward, written by Briony as an old woman, who knows that her time left in this world is limited, that ended up being the most memorable part of this book for me. I found myself reading the fourth last paragraph twice over, because it’s here that the meaning of Briony’s atonement is finally written, and in the space of a paragraph, it changed the experience of the book for me completely.

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