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Next Up: Atonement

Any novel authored by an English gentleman named Ian has to be pretty good, right?

Atonement is one of those novels that has always stayed on the periphery of my reading list. I’ve heard a lot about it, and always thought I’d get around to reading it, but never have.

At first glance, it seems a little sappy and sentimental. But that’s why you read the book. And I know Time wouldn’t include it on the list if it was sappy nonsense.

So here’s a few quick facts about Atonement and its author, Ian McEwan.

  • Published in 2001, it was shortlisted for the 2001 Booker Prize in fiction and is one of the most recently published novels on the list.
  • In 2007, Atonement was adapted into an Academy Award nominated film starring James McAvoy and Keira Knightley. The film was directed by Joe Wright.
  • An opera based on the novel is currently being developed and is expected to be released in 2013 in the U.S., U.K., and Germany.
  • In 2006, Ian McEwan was accused of plagiarizing information from historical author, Lucilla Andrews, about wartime nursing. He denied the accusations, while many prominent authors—Updike, Amis, Atwood, and Pynchon–came to his defense.
  • McEwan has written a dozen novels, including Atonement and Amsterdam, a Booker Prize winner in 1998.
  • McEwan is an atheist who, a few years ago, came under fire for his criticism of Islamic beliefs on women and homosexuality.

So this was one of the novels you guys picked for me to read in this last batch of five, so I know many of you are familiar with it.

What should I expect?

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25 Comments Post a comment
  1. David Jacobs #

    1. Don’t watch the film!
    2. There’s a great twist that really works
    3. McEwan has a new novel out, Sweet Tooth, that is definitely worth looking at

    Like

    August 28, 2012
    • Is the film a spoiler or just bad?

      Like

      August 28, 2012
      • David Jacobs #

        Yes, the film’s a spoiler, but whether you like it or not depends on your appetite for Keira Knightly.

        Like

        August 28, 2012
  2. sampiper22 #

    It is a fabulous book! Enjoy it!

    It is very much a book of two halves and a twist! Don’t want to spoil it for you but you should expect:

    The sappiness and sentimentality to diminish;

    Layers of meanings and understandings and misunderstandings;

    A story of class, mistakes, consequences, childhood, regret and – as the title suggests – atonement.

    Like

    August 28, 2012
    • Good to hear the sappiness isn’t there much. The novel just has a sappy feel…even the cover.

      Like

      August 28, 2012
  3. Expect a very slow Mrs. Dalloway-ish style party scene. Try to hang on till the dinner part of the book, and then it is awesome, with a great twist.

    I am somehow not surprised by the plagiarism allegations. A lot of sections in this book seem referential to other famous books. I don’t want to give more details, but I am curious if you feel the same after reading it.

    Like

    August 28, 2012
    • Oh no. You mentioned Mrs. Dalloway. This cannot bode well.

      Like

      August 28, 2012
  4. No, no, no, I would not compare this book to Mrs. Dalloway at all. I thought it was a good read. Well written. Looking forward to reading your review.

    Like

    August 28, 2012
    • I didn’t say the book is Mrs.Dalloway-ish, only the never-ending day of the dinner party

      Like

      August 28, 2012
  5. Don’t know it. What is it about please?

    Like

    August 28, 2012
  6. Mrs. Dalloway is a much better book. McEwan is a popular writer and the only thing I can say is that Atonement at least isn’t as bad as Saturday. My notes on this novel from ten years ago:

    “A good, straightforward story that the author ascribes to other the characters hoping for some cheap irony. It’s nothing new but it’s pretty well written even if it seems to desperately need an editor. It’s better than Franzen but not nearly as good as Updike.”

    Like

    August 28, 2012
    • Agree with you about Saturday. A more highly pretentious set of characters I have seldom encountered in fiction.

      Like

      August 28, 2012
  7. Lucille #

    When you get to the many pages leading up to Dunkirk, any thoughts of sappy and sentimental will fly out the window. I didn’t like Mrs, Dalloway but loved Atonement. But then I always like the dark and gritty side.

    Like

    August 28, 2012
  8. Jillian ♣ #

    Atonement is an incredible book. The movie’s great too, but definitely read the book first. 🙂 (It is NOT stream of consciousness like Mrs. Dalloway, but the book is sort of divided into three parts. The first third is very different in tone to the other two parts. I think that’s what people are talking about. They’re saying to keep going. The first third has a point.

    Like

    August 28, 2012
  9. lauratfrey #

    Always read the book first! This is a rare case where I liked the movie better than the book. I like Keira Knightley and James McAvoy, so that helped 🙂

    Atonement was good, not great. It didn’t make me want to read more of McEwan’s books-a shame, since they are all on the 1001 books list!

    Like

    August 28, 2012
  10. Overall it’s a good read because of the sudden change in direction early on…. much much better than Saturday or Solar.

    Like

    August 28, 2012
  11. I haven’t read the book, but loved the movie when I watched it years ago. I don’t remember it well, so I haven’t spoiled anything for myself! Tell me what you think about it 🙂

    Like

    August 28, 2012
  12. I didn’t especially enjoy it, but then I found most of the characters to be somewhat insufferable. Definitely not a favourite.

    Like

    August 28, 2012
  13. Just stop researching about the novel and read it. Research can come after. And oh, don’t watch the film or even take a sneak peek unless you are done reading. Enjoy the book!

    Like

    August 28, 2012
  14. Expect to be blown away. It is in my top five favorite books of all time. If found the ending especially profound, and I thought that the film stuck with the book incredibly well. It’s not a happy or sappy book by any means, at least in my opinion. It’s sad, but deeply moving and for me as a writer, personally convicting. Can’t wait to hear what you think!

    Like

    August 29, 2012
  15. The movie pissed me off, i hope the book is better.

    Like

    August 29, 2012
  16. I studied abroad at McEwan’s alma mater a year after the film came out, so it was all over the place. I didn’t get a chance to read it then, but my coworker just gave it to me yesterday. I’m starting it this weekend, so I’m looking forward to reading what you have to say in conjunction with my reading it. I haven’t seen the movie, so I’m going in mostly blind.

    Like

    August 30, 2012
  17. Reblogged this on lefterandreea71.

    Like

    April 14, 2013

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