Wednesday, 19 January 2011

Atonement by Ian McEwan

This is the story of Briony Tallis and the effect a simple statement makes on the lives of those around her.  Set during the years surrounding World War Two, young Briony learns that being an adult is more than just sounding like one.

There are visitors to the family estate and she witnesses two events, both of which she mis-interprets.  Almost immediately Briony realizes that she has made a mistake, but waits years to make amends.

This story left me feeling flat.  It didn't seem to go anywhere.  Briony came across to me as a spoiled, rich little girl who wanted all the attention focused on her and when she didn't get her way, she stomped off.  When that didn't work, she made accusations that drew all attention to her and kept it there.

Spoiler Alert

As for making amends/atonement, all she does is write a couple of letters, have them notarized and she's free.  I was hoping for a public announcement or at least a scarlet 'L' emblazoned across her chest.  Nope, a simple "I'm sorry" and that's it.

I did listen to an abridged version, so perhaps I missed some important details, but if that's the case, then the editor did a shoddy job.  Nothing important should be removed in an abridgement.

This book was read by Josephine Bailey.  I didn't like her voice; I found it distracting, too quavery.  She was very clear, I could understand every word, but I just didn't like her voice.
Even though this book didn't work for me, I do plan to read another book by Mr. McEwan in the future.

Winner 2002 National Book Critics Circle Award
Winner 2002 Los Angeles Times Award for Fiction
Winner 2002 New York Times Best Books of the Year for Fiction

Phoenix Books and Audio  Abridged edition 6 hours 3 minutes, read by Josephine Bailey

Cover Photo from Download Library

This is my 22 novel for the Read, Remember, Recommend Challenge hosted by Bibliobabe.  Visit her site for a list with links to dozens of reviews of award winning books.


Anonymous said...

I hate to say this but I'm so glad you didn't like this. Not that I read it because I have absolutely no desire to read this. Don't want to see the movie don't want to read the book. I'm actually, for some reason, a little snotty about it so I'm glad to hear I'm not missing anything.

My Novel Thoughts said...

I tried to read Atonement but just couldn't get into it. I might try again in the distant future - maybe it's one of those novels you have to be in the right mood to read.

Heather said...

I had no idea there was a movie of this book. It won't be on my 'to watch' list.

I do think that had I been reading a paper version of this book rather than listening to audio, I would have put it down and it would have been a chore to pick it back up again.

Care said...

Well, as a first time visitor here, perhaps it is easier for me to provide a contrast. McEwan and this book is often a much loved and also much hated book so I'm not surprised to find your reaction. I, myself, adore McEwan and loved loved this book. HOWEVER, I read it twice, the first time I didn't like it much and the second time - heck I didn't even realize that it was a re-read! I thought it felt familiar and then about 1/3 in realized I had already read it. The movie is AWESOME. The story is heart-breaking! She was a spoiled little girl and when she grew up and realized what she had done, it was too late! but anyway. perhaps I should look around and see what kind of books you do like. :)

Dorte H said...

I would probably not like it either. If a story is called Atonement, it should also be about atonement, not just a petty ´I´m sorry´.

Heather said...

Hi Care, Thanks for your comments. Perhaps listening to a book while navigating city traffic at busy times is not the best. I do agree that where I am reading from can have a big impact on my level of enjoyment I get from a book.

Yes, it is a heartbreaking story and I can see how it could happen. The police involved don't get off easy, in my mind they should also be held accountable.

Ann Summerville said...

I found the movie confusing. I was hoping the book would be better but it doesn't seem to be the case. Thanks for the review.

(M)ary said...

This was a very popular book for awhile down here in the United States. It seemed like the IT book for awhile, maybe Oprah recommeded it or something. Anyway, I could never get past the back cover. For some reason just the description of the plot bored me. I am actually glad to read your review as it is not the glowing butt kissing that the book received here!