Atonement by Ian McEwan
Atonement is an extremely beautiful story about how differing perceptions of a single event can affect the lives of those involved, whether negatively or positively.
This book is told in three parts and each part is from three different perspectives.
The story begins in 1935 and is told from the viewpoint of the 13 year old Briony. Briony witnesses an event involving her older sister, Cecile, and the gardener, Robbie, that her young brain does not understand. Briony decides that Cecile would never commit such an indecent act of her own accord; therefore, Robbie must have forced Cecile into the situation.
Briony later witnesses an assault on her cousin and names the lewd Robbie as the perpetrator. Briony is unwaveringly believed in her account of the tale and Robbie is imprisoned.
Part two of the book is told from the viewpoint of Robbie. He was able to bargain an early release from prison by joining the military and being shipped off to France to fight. Robbie wants nothing more than to return to England and his beloved Cecile. His account of his struggle through the French countryside in an attempt at retreat is mesmerizing. His love for Cecile and absolute hatred for the person who tore him away from her and single handedly imprisoned him instills the same passion in the reader.
The third part of the book is told, again, from Briony’s perspective. Years have passed and she is now a nurse for the wounded soldiers. She feels an immense sense of guilt for her childish take on the event so many years ago. She wants nothing more than to reconcile with Cecile and Robbie. Briony is finally able to confront the ghosts of her past and make her appeal to the parties involved. The outcome of this occurrence lies within the pages of the book itself. I will say, however, that the ending…affected me.
I found this book to be elegantly written. The language was absolutely exquisite and I identified with Briony. I could hardly put the book down…I had to force myself to stop reading each night when the hands of the clock approached 1 a.m. I was entranced with every page, every word. The tale of Briony, Cecile, and Robbie will be carried with me for the rest of my days and is now considered to be one of my most beloved experiences.