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November 28, 2007


Thanks for such a thorough, well-considered and thoughtful review. I got a copy of this for my birthday last week, and I'm looking forward to it! Not sure if I should see the movie until I finish it...

i think youre too generous...some of those "tricks" of omniscience felt like just that to me: tricks. the effect on the reader was mainly one of surprise, rather than meaning.

also, i had trouble liking the characters--they're all so self-involved. im not saying i can only read books where i feel like the protagonist is my best friend, but all the characters in Atonement are shaped by what they're NOT: by what the wish they did, what they wished happened, what they imagine and what they hope for. The characters aren't shaped by anything REAL and in the present-tense.

i was disappointed

On reading these comments:

That is unique--to be shaped only by what we are not! Its like living in a hole, from the absense of soul--NOW i am going to have to read it!

Thanks for sharing your thoughts, everyone.

Mansuetude, I'd be interested in hearing what you think when you read it! (And hopefully it won't take you as long as it did me to read it).

DLG, you make a valid point--there IS a lot of self-centeredness in the characters, and they ARE primarily shaped by what they're not. I think that's why it took me awhile to latch on to the novel, why that first section moved slowly for me. But it did grow on me--I think McEwan compensates readers for the predilection with what's NOT real by grounding the text so thoroughly in its physical landscape, and with the solidity of secondary characters. Think of the detail in the Tallis house; of Robbie in wartime France and all the vivid people that move in and out of that section; of Briony working in the hospital, and the gritty details of what she sees and who she meets....Now that I'm finished, the character still stick in my mind.

Suzanne, happy belated birthday! I'm hoping to see the movie myself, but I'm glad I read the book first--I don't see how the film can possibly translate the ending of it visually, so I'm pretty sure major parts of the book are going to need to be rewritten for the screen. Which isn't inherently bad. But I'm glad I didn't apprach the book with false expectations after first seeing the movie.

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