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"In the city of my birth, I had a dream..."
Atonement by Ian McEwan 
16th-Jan-2008 11:59 pm
McEwan, Ian. Atonement. 2002. New York: Anchor, 2003.
          Summary: At the tender age of thirteen, Briony Tallis tells a lie that gets her elder sister's lover thrown in prison on a rape charge. The lovers both end up dying during World War II, and Briony, as a novelist, spends the rest of her life trying to atone through the medium of her prose.
          Comments: Hey look, I'm actually reading something trendy! (To tell the truth, this book has been sitting on my shelf half-read for over a year now, and being unexpectedly trendy was enough motivation to finally finish it.) Well, I have to hand it to McEwan--he's certainly a precise, intelligent writer. Plot, themes, and structure are all unified right from start to finish. And there's that bit of self-reflexivity and atheist philosophizing for color at the end. But the reason he--or this book, at least--is so popular is most likely due to 1) its accessibility and 2) its potential as a (women's) book club read. The quasi-serious literary fiction titles that most often become hits with the book club set, such as the The Kite Runner and The Memory Keeper's Daughter (neither of which I have read, if you were wondering), all have one thing in common: a sympathetic protagonist who is faced with a complex moral dilemma...but, of course, the book has to be relatively easy to read so that participants actually feel like they understand the ins and outs of what they're discussing. Atonement fits the bill perfectly. Hell, it even has the perfect title. I can't help wondering if McEwan, a veteran author, knew his market when he wrote this book, or if he just stumbled into it by chance by writing exactly what he wanted to write.
          Notes: trade paperback, 1st printing; first published in the UK by Jonathan Cape in 2001
          Rating: 7/10 - An atmospheric, graceful novel that makes me want to read more. Definitely recommended.
18th-Jan-2008 05:04 am (UTC)
It deserved it. I've been an Ian McEwan fan for a while now, and while this is definitely one of his most accessible works, that doesn't mean it's an easy film adaptation by any means. I was extremely impressed with how they handled that.
18th-Jan-2008 05:09 am (UTC)
*nods* Yeah, I saw the movie and liked it. I think what impressed me the most was (no, not that looooooong war shot) the way they used typewriters and specifically the sound of typewriters to underscore the reflexivity of the story. ^_^

What other McEwan novels would you recommend?
18th-Jan-2008 05:48 am (UTC)
I liked "Amsterdam" quite a bit, as I recall (it's been a while). I don't know if I really *liked* "Enduring Love," but I was certainly impressed with it at the time.
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