Atonement

Read as part of The Infinite Variety Reading Challenge, based on the BBC’s Big Read Poll of 2003.


The cost of oblivious daydreaming was always this moment of return, the realignment with what had been before and now seemed a little worse.

In the heat of a 1930s Summer, a family reunites at their country home for what may be the last time. Cousins have come to stay, a sister has returned from University and a brother is returning from America with a new friend in tow. Briony, the only child lef

Read as part of The Infinite Variety Reading Challenge, based on the BBC’s Big Read Poll of 2003.


The cost of oblivious daydreaming was always this moment of return, the realignment with what had been before and now seemed a little worse.

In the heat of a 1930s Summer, a family reunites at their country home for what may be the last time. Cousins have come to stay, a sister has returned from University and a brother is returning from America with a new friend in tow. Briony, the only child left at home, is furiously writing a play to be performed, but what she witnesses-and is exposed to-will force her to make a decision that she will regret for the rest of her life.

This book reminded me strongly of Evelyn Waugh, though I think that’s purely based on the surroundings and era (and mostly the house). Whilst Evelyn had a whimsical style to his writing, Ian McEwan is positively overflowing with flowery prose that leads nowhere and brings up memories of terrible books they made me read for college.

Atonement is a relatively easy read, if you can take so much description and little plot. None of the characters are anything except a piece of personality and don’t go beyond their one trait and I felt nothing for all of them. They all had their one job and, whilst they did this one job well, that was that and there seemed nothing beyond their doing their one job.

We begin in a wonderful countryside house, which is described to death and the plot simmers along nicely. There’s a play being written, and the cousins coming down from the North are being forced to act it out. There is youthful petulance, coming-of-age rebellion and adults avoiding responsibility and, in truth, the scene is set nicely in the first few pages. But then this setting of the scene continues for around half the rest of the book and it soon becomes clear that the plot is far away and we’re not entirely sure if it’ll be seen at all.

Setting the book during the war seemed like a pointless endeavour, if only to include some kind of treacherous battle scenes to add to the overall lack of drama up to this point. I suppose the book needed to be set somewhere and some time, but the overall affect was unimpressive. I found the whole thing lacking, in truth. The book, whilst it shifted to another city and even country, was just too small. Everything was cloying and felt like it was happening in one tiny bubble. I prefer big worlds and big plots, not just a single thread moving through a mire.

The main thing that irritated me about this book, is that it was full of needless cliffhangers that were seemingly pointless to anything except to expunge the pathetic attempt at a plot beyond the story arc. Nearly every chapter ended with something along the lines of “and oh my if this character hadn’t done what he’s about to do in the next chapter then his life would not have turned out the way it did”, as if McEwan is unsure of his plot and needs to plead with us to keep reading. “What, what Ian, what’s going to happen? I must must must read on if you say something interesting is coming along, because so far we haven’t had much, have we, Sir?”

I am grateful, however, at the vague pleasure I got from the book as I read it that kindled within me a notion of the kinds of books I do and do not like. I feel, having read this book, that I could spot a book I dislike from the first few pages now, whereas before I’d probably have to get through it all just to know. So, of course, I will now not be wasting more hours on books that seemingly go nowhere, even after the first half, than I need to.

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Source: https://thangvi.com
Category: Thông tin

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