Tuesday, 4 September 2007

Atonement - Ian McEwan

I'd been meaning to read this for ages, but had never got round to buying a copy. When I saw it in the Vintage Twins edition with 'What Maisie Knew' in a 3 for 2 at Waterstones I knew I could resist no longer. The opening evoked a parched summer which, for Briony, is without distraction other than her abortive play with her troubled cousins. On the brink of stumbling through the initiations of early adolescence, she knows enough to completely misunderstand every interaction she witnesses between her sister Cecelia and Robbie, an old friend. Her disastrous suppositions have grim repercussions, for which she still feels the need to atone many years later.

The pace of the writing is somewhat slower than many modern novels, taking in every thought fluttering through the protagonists' somewhat self-absorbed minds. The gradual building of momentum towards the key scenes can be a little frustrating - there's only so long you can peep through your fingers at the car crash you know is about to happen - but the tension keeps rising, and you do get there eventually, with the exquisite minutiae of the previous pages often increasing the impact. I'll be interested to see whether the forthcoming film, with its growing Oscar buzz, is faithful to the atmosphere of the novel, and the complex inner lives of its characters.

1 comment:

Bear said...

I've really geared myself up for watching the film on thurs with my mum and I don't know what i want to do first, watch the film or read the book!

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