Monday, February 20, 2012

Review and Book Club Report: Atonement by Ian McEwan

Review: Atonement by Ian McEwan
Genre: Literary Fiction/Historical Fiction
Rating: ***
For: Book Club
From: the library

I've been a little nervous about reading this book, but was excited when the book club voted it onto the list because it would force me to read it. Turns out "the scene" that I worried about wasn't THAT bad, but the writing itself was harder than I expected.

This is the story of a family, specifically two sisters, who have a pretty big event happen that changes their lives. The whole first half of the book takes place in one day in 1935 I think it is where the family is preparing to have a party for the brother/son who is visiting from college along with his friend. During the course of the day, the older sister has a couple of interactions with her friend who is also the neighbor boy. The younger sister misinterprets these interactions and when another event happens later on that evening, she blows things really out of proportion. And thus, everyone's lives are changed forever. The remainder of the book, which takes place during WWII in England, goes on to show how.

I have no idea how to sum up my feelings on this book! While it was quite a slow one, it was still quite beautiful in a way. The writing is very descriptive and nice, but left me feeling anxious at times and desperate for something to happen. Then again, that could possible have to do with the fact that I only left myself a couple of days to read it before book club! I wanted it to be a fast thing and fly through it, but it's much more of a slow, savor type of book.

At the risk of giving it all away, I must also say that it's one of those books that you need to read the very end, I'm talking the VERY LAST PAGE even, for it all to make sense and for it to hit you with a "you've got to be kidding" kind of feeling. So if you do choose to read this some day, don't give up, read that last page and then I challenge you to try and say what you think!

So, while it didn't blew me out of the water, it did leave me with quite the punch and made me think and made me look at the author with new eyes.

Bottom line: I enjoyed it, even the slow bits, but especially the crazy ending.

Other Reviews:

Alternate Readality
Nishita's Rants and Raves
The Literary Omnivore
Book Chase

Book Club Report: I was a bit out of it at book club the other day and didn't write down anyone's comments, but actually, only three of us read it. More than one quit after a page, or chapter, or two. Those that did read it found it to be interesting, but not fantastic. Until that last page that made you think of the whole thing in a whole new way. We did agree that the characters were not endearing and made us not really care that much about what happens to them. Which then made us wonder who some authors create characters that we love and others that we don't care about. However, that last page may also explain this phenomenon too.

Up next for book club: The Man Who Mistook His Wife for a Hat and Other Clinical Tales by Oliver Sacks. I seriously have no idea what to expect.


  1. I really wish I could've read this with the group. I think it's probably one of those books that need discussion. I still want to read it. Someday.

  2. Yes, I think the three of us that read it all had the same reaction. I wonder if all those people who LOVE it loved the whole thing WHILE they were reading it, or only after reading the end???

  3. Slow but beautiful. It would've just been okay without the killer ending! I'm glad we read this one, because I doubt I would've gotten through it on my own.

  4. It's interesting that the whole first half of the book is about that first day. I only saw the movie version and it spent relatively little time on that day and more on what happened after.

    1. That is quite interesting. Yes, in the book, that summer day is VERY detailed and you are in everyone's head.

  5. I read this ages ago and enjoyed it. I have read other books by McEwan, though, and didn't like them at all. I have basically given up...

    1. I have heard that On Chesil Beach is good. Did you read that and not like it?

  6. I read this before the movie came out and loved it!

  7. Wasn't the ending crazy! Now you know why it's on my books tha tbroke your heart list.



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