Atonement by Ian McEwan

A review

atonement1I was engrossed in this book from the beginning until the end.  On the wings of this delightful piece of prose, I was transported into the pre-war England and the world of betrayal and guilt, while at the same time I was captivated by a passionate and abiding love between two young lovers.  Consisting of four parts, the novel Atonement gives us a moving portrayal of the main characters through their stream of consciousness.

Each part is different. The plot of the first part is set in England, before the World War II.  Not expecting another war, we find theTallis family lulled into a false sense of serenity and tranquility. Therefore, this part is rich in romantic descriptions of their home,  their garden, the island temple, swimming pool pavilion, river and various bridges crossing it. We are introduced to the main character of the novel,  young Briony Tallis. She is an imaginative 13 year-old girl who has written and prepared a play for her older brother Leon, who is coming home from London.  Living between reality and imagination, she commits  a crime. Love between Robbie and her sister Cecilia is doomed.

The second part starts off with the World War II raging on. Robbie has been conscripted into the army and we find him in France trying to come back to his loved one, Cecilia. This part is full of the horrors of the war. By using flashbacks, the author transports readers through time, disclosing peculiarities of Robbie and Cecilia’s relationship.

The third part is dominated by Briony. She is now a nurse in one of London’s hospitals, training for the return of wounded soldiers.  The focus is on her acceptance of gilt and her attempts at atonement.

The fourth part is set in 1999 London on Briony’s77th birthday. In the last part, we find out what happened to Cecilia and Robbie and other members of Briony’s family.

Attonement  is a marvelous book that brings together unusual plot and exceptional narrative style. All in all, this book will not leave you indifferent, for sure.

By Milica Dragićević

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Milica