Atonement by Ian McEwan - Rory Gilmore Reading Challenge

Atonement: A Novel


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 of a servant and Cecilia’s childhood friend. But Briony’s incomplete grasp of adult motives—together with her precocious literary gifts—brings about a crime that will change all their lives. As it follows that crime’s repercussions through the chaos and carnage of World War II and into the close of the twentieth century, Atonement engages the reader on every conceivable level, with an ease and authority that mark it as a genuine masterpiece.


Atonement was a great read. It is one of the few books where I absolutely hated the main character but loved the book. Briony is written in such a way that you really don't like her, or I really didn't like her, but she is supposed to be that way. It was an amazing read. I vaguely remembered the movie when I started reading, just remembered the beginning really, but didn't remember how it ended. That was probably good as the ending is interesting. 

Atonement is the first of Ian McEwan's books I have read and I really enjoyed it. The writing is fantastic and just really put me into the story. This is really the story of Briony and how one terrible lie on her part affected everyone else. Man she was a horrible child. I understand she was only thirteen when the book opens, but she is so full of herself! She is really not likable at all to me. She is always making up stories and has a very active imagination so when she sees and reads something she doesn't understand she makes up what is actually happening. She tells people she saw something she never really saw. She ruins Robbie's life just because she is a spoiled little girl who thinks she knows what she is talking about when she really doesn't. Man she was horrible. I really really didn't like her, but I loved the story so that is a reflection of how well the author told this story.

Robbie, the servants son, and Cecilia, Briony's sister, find themselves falling for each other. It is not easy, Cecilia especially doesn't realize it right away, but it happens. Cecilia is just angry with him all the time until they finally figure things out. It was like the perfect storm of events that happened to ruin everything for them. Briony and her imagination accusing Robbie of things he never did, could never do. How she can turn so suddenly on him just from the one small things she finds out I do not know. After all Robbie was always around. Her parents treated him almost like their own. They were paying for his schooling and he was just a good person. Only Briony ruins all of his plans, all of his dreams, when she tells her imagined story as fact. It is just heartbreaking. You know he didn't do it, you know Briony is just adamant that her imagined scenario is the case, I got so angry with her all the time, and yet I loved reading it.

Robbie eventually goes off to war to try and get back to Cecilia quicker. He fights his way through hell trying to make his way back to her. As the story progresses you get bits and pieces of all three of their lives. What Briony is now doing, how she is trying to deal with the repercussions of what she did those years ago, how her sister is doing. Really a heartbreaking read. I did enjoy the ending, though I won't say too much about it as I don't want to ruin anything. Interesting read, really heartbreaking. I could have just cried for Robbie and Cecilia at times. A great read.

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★1/2

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