Following my tradition of reading books on which movies have been based, I recently completed Atonement by Ian McEwan. I watched the movie long enough ago that I could not remember much of the story, so reading the book was like getting to know the story afresh.

It is written well, and before long I was well into the swing of things. There are quite a few characters at the start, but each is written in a way that allow you to recognise who they are and begin building your opinion of them.

The story revolves around three main characters, two of whom are in love and are slowly coming to that realisation, and one who is younger than the other two and who completely misinterprets their actions towards each other. This leads to a huge rift and the need for the title of the book.

I wasn’t overly fussed with the story over all, but in amongst it all there some very well written parts. In particular, McEwan’s description of the British withdrawal in World War Two was excellent. I felt the book really fell down with its ending though as it tries a little too hard to be too clever. I think if it had been a straight narrative of the events as they unfolded that would have been great. But at the end it tries to get all meta and become a book within a book. As such, when it ended I was kinda like “huh?”

In fact now that I am writing this out and saying it out loud, that meta ending could have worked if it was explained more clearly. My “huh?” was probably borne more from a feeling of “Was that actually supposed to be a story within the story? Where does one end and the other start?”. I dunno, maybe I’m too stupid to ‘get’ it.

Its not a bad read, and like I said earlier, there are some parts that are well written. I think for me though, I would feel more comfortable recommending the movie.


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