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Atonement ~ Final Discussion, Whole Book

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Atonement ~ Final Discussion, Whole Book

Post Number:#1  Postby Scott » 30 Sep 2007, 17:17

This is the discussion thread for the Atonement as a whole. If you haven't finished the book yet, do not read further as this thread will contain spoilers.

What did you think of the book? Overall, I would say I wouldn't necessarily recommend it, but I did find it interesting and I'm glad I read it.

What did you think of the second part of the book which described Robbie during World War II as he made his way out of France? While interesting, it seemed to drag on, at least to me. However, perhaps that let us feel what Robbie felt, in that surely he would say that the war and his suffering was drawn out also.

What do you think of the ending of the book? It completely threw me off when Briony tells us that the first ending is false and that Robbie never made it back and all that. In a matter of a few pages, it changed the ending from a relatively happy ending to a tragic one--one that seems to say atonement was impossible.

What do you think of Briony after reading the whole story? On one hand I dislike her cowardice and selfishness, but on the other hand I find myself sympathizing with her and her desire for atonement.

Are there any quotes or excerpts you especially like from the second half of the book? If so, please post them.

Also, please ask any questions you have for the rest of the readers.

Did you know Atonement has been made into a movie? I just found out this week. I don't think the story would translate onto film well, but I'm interested to see the movie just to compare. I'm going to watch the movie soon.

Thanks,
Scott
Last edited by Scott on 10 Oct 2007, 20:00, edited 1 time in total.
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Post Number:#2  Postby babypinkcandygirl » 05 Oct 2007, 15:12

if im being entirely honest i found the whole war episode of atonement absolutely and totally unnecessary and pointless (not very analytical, i know!) and while the hospital section was more interesting it seemed only to serve the purpose of showing briony piously devoting herself to the sick for the sake of making up for her crime. it all seemed rather pointless.

the problem i have with mcewan is that, even though i love his writing, i often feel somewhat disappointed in the end; he seems to be rather more style than substance more often than not. or else he withholds a satisfactory ending.i dont mean simply killing off his darlings so to speak and not providing a cliched happy ending, just that-having finished any of his books-im never left with the feeling that i understand exactly the point he is making (and thats at the best of times;at his worst he descends into the realms of the ridiculous...the ending of Saturday being a fine example!). maybe im just gettign harder to please in my old age....
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Post Number:#3  Postby haniirani » 06 Oct 2007, 13:23

I've finally finished with this book. I was struggling with part 2 and 3, and at times I just skimmed through. I felt the same as Scott and babypink at first that the war episode dragged on and seemed pointless. But when I got to the ending, it totally changed my perception. To me at least, the Dunkirk retreat shows the last moments of life for Robbie Turner, surrounded with horror and suffering of the war. Now that I see it that way, I appreciate that part more. This section could also be seen in another way. It can be shown that what Robbie goes through is all because of her and that compounds Briony's guilt and later adds to her atonement.

In addition, what makes it interesting is that I found out that the Dunkirk retreat is from his personal experience.
His father, who died in 1996, was a dispatch rider with the Highland Light Infantry and was wounded by shrapnel in both legs during the retreat from Dunkirk; McEwan always knew he would write about it, and he is sorry he wasn’t able to show this novel to his father, who became obsessed with his experiences at Dunkirk in his last years. “He found another man wounded in both arms and together they managed to ride a Harley-Davidson to safety.” The author’s mother, who worked as a cleaning lady, is also present in places in the book; she suffers from vascular dementia, a disease that erases the memory, which afflicts Briony late in life.


What I like is Briony uses the "power of narrative to create and manipulate truth" until the end. It is her ability and power to create the narrative that lets Robbie and Cecilia lives on. To make them immortal in her story I guess is how she fulfills her atonement. At the same time, even McEwan is manipulating us readers into believing his writing.

What I like about McEwan's writing is his characterisation. Each character is richly portrayed and we get to know their innermost, subtlest thoughts, feelings and motivations. Also, I like how he describes a situation with different points of views/perspectives which aptly describes how other people are as alive as you are.

To make it short and sweet, I'd say Atonement is an interesting novel.

This is an interesting paragraph: "how can a novelist achieve atonement when, with her absolute power of deciding outcomes, she is also God? There is no one, no entity or higher form that she can appeal to, or be reconciled with, or that can forgive her. There is nothing outside her. In her imagination she has set the limits and the terms. No atonement for God, or novelists, even if they are atheists. It was always an impossible task, and that was precisely the point. The attempt was all." What do you make of this excerpt?
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Post Number:#4  Postby haniirani » 06 Oct 2007, 13:52

Did you know Atonement has been made into a movie? I just found out this week. I don't think the story would translate onto film well, but I'm interested to see the movie just to compare. I'm going to watch the movie soon.


I didn't know about that. Now that you've said it I googled and found out that it stars James McAvoy as Robbie and Keira Knightley as Cecilia. The look of the movie is enough to interest me. Scott, do tell us how the movie is when you've watched it!

And by the way, just curious, are we the only ones who read this book?
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Post Number:#5  Postby sam-bam » 15 Oct 2007, 06:35

Initially, I felt that McEwan made a brilliant intro to the book and he got straight to the point. I especially liked his description of Briony on how she was a lonely girl with such an imaginative mind. However, he did start to drag on after the first six chapters and it seemed forever before the climax was reached.
I didn’t particularly enjoy the description of when Robbie was at war. This too seemed to drag on a bit, but I do like how the foul language reflected the horrid surroundings that Robbie was in.
In contrast to the description of Robbie’s surroundings, I rather enjoyed reading about Briony’s new life in a hospital, due to the fact that we can see how she changes and matures as a person who wants to do right in life.
I really do start to feel sorry for Briony towards the end of the novel. I don’t know, but it’s something about the description that makes her atonement feel more genuine. However, I too was disappointed that the meeting between Briony, Cecilia and Robbie lasted just a few pages. I was also not really content with the ending of the book as I felt that McEwan failed to grasp the opportunity to write a fascinating conclusion.
Overall, I wasn’t too happy with the book but it was a great storyline, and I look forward to watching the film. :D
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Post Number:#6  Postby Meggs » 15 Jul 2008, 00:27

I found myself, so moved by this book. But i didn't like it. Is that possible? So I've decided that I guess I really did like it...


Anyway, do you all think Briony really atoned for what she did?

I really don't, I think in her mind she did, but i feel like she still, at her old age, is in such an immature state, that she would think writing a book would atone for her lie. I think that though she has physically aged, what is so intriguing about her character is her ability to be so within herself, still after all these years, so single minded to think that this book would atone for her actions.


I love the part where Robbie writes "Our story can resume. I will simply resume."

I love his character's coexistence of simplicity and complicity
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Post Number:#7  Postby M » 22 Jul 2008, 06:28

ok I am new here and posting on old thread so forgive me if I am not meant to :oops:

I loved Atonement, I cried when I learned Robbie and Celia were dead, I am a bit soft.

As to the question has Briony atoned for what she did, my answer is no, she wanted to be a writer and in the end she gets what she wants, she may have made sacrifices along the way but not to make up for what she did and she didnt sacrifice the one thing she cared about writing.

However I think the real guilt should have fallen on the cousin (eek forgotten name) who made up the assault story in the first place, yet who manages to go on and marry, get rich and live to old age.

I think the war section is necessary to understand how hard life was Robbie and also to make the real ending all the more tragic, I was rooting for him to make it home to Celia so it had even more impact to learn he was dead.

As for the movie if you hadnt read the book you would have had no idea what was happening, it seemed to jump about too much without explaining why.

Sorry for long post
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Post Number:#8  Postby kelly » 13 Aug 2008, 06:24

yup
i read this book and it was really a great experience but the writer could make it a bit better.
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Post Number:#9  Postby Jason08 » 30 Jan 2009, 00:41

I have read this book it is really nice...at list read it one time......
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book of the month

Post Number:#10  Postby anshul » 19 Feb 2009, 01:25

shakespeare drama merchant of venice is the book of the month.
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Post Number:#11  Postby atrixa » 01 Jun 2009, 03:58

M wrote:However I think the real guilt should have fallen on the cousin (eek forgotten name) who made up the assault story in the first place, yet who manages to go on and marry, get rich and live to old age.

She didn't make it up, did she?

Overall, I thought the book was a good read, apart from the last chapter which simply confused me. Going to get the movie now, just for comparison.
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Post Number:#12  Postby leedale » 04 Jun 2009, 10:56

Great Book
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Post Number:#13  Postby atrixa » 07 Jun 2009, 17:14

Watched the film. I have to say, the ending with the tv interview with 77 year old Briony was very well done, but I thought that some parts of the book didn't translate well to the screen, particularly the part with Robbie's note.
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Post Number:#14  Postby daniels_co » 06 Jul 2009, 03:24

great one
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Post Number:#15  Postby book_reader » 21 Jan 2010, 06:21

atrixa wrote:
M wrote:However I think the real guilt should have fallen on the cousin (eek forgotten name) who made up the assault story in the first place, yet who manages to go on and marry, get rich and live to old age.

She didn't make it up, did she?

Overall, I thought the book was a good read, apart from the last chapter which simply confused me. Going to get the movie now, just for comparison.


Even I don't think she made it up. It happened for real but she doesn't know who is the culprit. When Briony tells Lola that she 'saw' him, Lola asks multiple times 'You saw him, right?' When Briony is so sure that it was Robbie, then Lola also starts believing the same thing.

I thought I was the only one who found the war part unnecessary. It was boring and dragged on for ever. On the other hand, I liked the part where Briony is in the hospital as a nurse. When I was reading this part, I thought Robbie will end up as a patient in her hospital and she puts in all her efforts to make him survive and that is how she gets her atonement.

I love McEwan's characters. In this book, I especially loved the way he portrayed Briony. When she is a teenager, the tone of the book is like that of a teenager's. McEwan talks about Briony imagining Lola in every weed and slashing at each weed to show her fury for Lola. Also, the part where she stands in the middle of the bridge until something big happens to her. And then as she grows up, the tone used to describe her also changes. This, I thought, was amazing.
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