Sunday, 13 September 2009

On "Atoning"

Just finished Atonement by Ian McEwan about an hour ago. Felt compelled to write about it asap.

A beautifully crafted and achingly sad novel...and if I hadn't seen the film adaptation, I would never have guessed the ending (I won't "spoil" it for anyone who hasn't read it yet).

I think it is the idea that McEwan introduces of a lie corrupting and destroying whole lives that resonated with me most. Speaking personally, lies have undone my life in certain ways. I could see how a childish and rash decision to lie can affect not just one life, but many.

The limpid beauty of the Tallis family home is breathtakingly realized by McEwan...the reader can feel the heat, literal and metaphorical. The love between Cecilia and Robbie is touching, tender, sensual and real - their first sexual liaison is all of these and one of the most provocative things I've ever read - and in a good way.

Briony (the Tallis sister whose horrific lie sets the main story in motion) realizes her mistake and tries to "atone" for her transgression. It comes to pass that she has been "atoning" her entire life. To know that she has done wrong and tries to right that wrong doesn't excuse her appalling behavior - and it made it hard for me to sympathize with her. Cecilia and Robbie's stories are much more deserving of mention.

Gorgeous book.

Next up: The Talented Mr. Ripley by Patricia Highsmith.

No comments:

Post a Comment