Just in time for the movie! My coworker and friend Carrie loaned me the book. Excellent! A little slow at first, as Mr. McEwan really works the descriptions of people and places. His writing is lush. But it soon captures you.
The story evolves from a misunderstood event witnessed by Briony, a young woman with a vivid imagination (and a rather dull life, if you ask me - siblings out of the house, mother incapacitated by migraines, and father off in London). Briony is on the cusp of womanhood, yet sees the world through naive, girlish eyes.
Naturally the story is about atonement - what we do to and for ourselves and others, to make things right. Some atonements are positive, some punishing. But to me this book is also about how easy it is to make assumptions and snap judgments. [Why have I been focusing on this lately - first in reading Blink, now here? Hmmmm.] But unlike Blink, in Atonement we see that we can't always trust our own first impressions. I related so strongly to the bright, imaginative Briony. She sees only what she can understand. Isn't this how we all view life? Through our own experiences, our own filters. That's part of what fascinates me about people - learning about their "filters." And that's also good writing.
If you read it, let me know what you think the atonement ended up being.