I came here to keep in touch with all my friends who left GR after the censorship debacle. I read a little of every genre. I co-blog at Musings of a Bibliomaniac.
This. Book. Drove. Me. Nuts.
Did I sabotage the book by opting to watch the movie first?
Or would it have turned out this way regardless?
I'll never know.
I like the idea of this book. Ian McEwan's definition of atonement is as dazzling as it is strange. I also love the prose. So rich and refined. For these reasons alone, I'm giving Atonement 3 stars.
The rest of this review, I'm afraid, is a jumbled explanation for why this book made me so mad.
I thought the purpose of this book was to tell a story. A story about how a misunderstanding borne out of innocence could tragically alter so many lives. But did it really do that??
It tried to, at least in the beginning. But even then, I did not for a minute believe that it was really happening, that all these people actually existed. It felt like the script of a play - everything was carefully rehearsed and choreographed. Every character from Briony to Cecelia, from Robbie to Leon, was like a caricature, like Arabella in The Trials of Arabella.
Then somewhere past the halfway mark, the story just stopped and Atonement turned into a documentary on the horrors of WW2. Civilians were getting blown to bits, soldiers were being left to die, villages were turning to rubble... I'm not saying it was pointless but it was way overdone. If these characters felt vague before, they ceased to exist for me then - lost in the mess of war tales.
So you see, very little actually happened in the course of 350 pages. So much of it was devoted to overtly descriptive passages that were, for lack of a better word, boring.
And then there's the twist at the end, of course.
MAJOR SPOILER AHEAD:
Since the entire novel is supposedly written by Briony and not McEwan, maybe the book was deliberately designed to reflect Briony's ineptitude?? If that was what McEwan had in mind, then I think this book is brilliant.
I've spent hours thinking on these lines but each passing minute has only added to my frustration.So I'm settling for 3.
P.s. I personally prefer the movie. It doesn't screw with your head so much :/