In my quest to read at least 50 out of the 100 books on the BBC Book List Challenge, I chose Atonement because it is a short book and I saw the movie a few years ago. I remember somewhat enjoying the movie, but found it a little depressing. However, the book is always better than the movie so I went into this book hoping that good writing would make up for the melancholy theme.
Aptly titled, Atonement is a family saga of sorts that traces the aftermath of a young girl, Brionny, who witnesses her cousin being raped and mistakenly blames her sister’s lover (Robbie) for the crime. I don’t want to give away too much of the story, but the title does make it clear she spends the rest of her life trying to atone for her error.
The success of the book comes from showing the maturity of Brionny, who transforms from a naive girl living in her head, to a nurse who rues her mistake and tries to find absolution with her sister (Cecilia) and Robbie. Mixed in with Brionny’s character development is what happens to Robbie and his relationship with Cecilia following the false accusation.
Does Brionny ever find forgiveness? Do the Romeo and Juliet-esque lovers ever find their happy ending after being torn apart? For those answers, you will have to read the book.
My only criticism of Atonement is the very last part, which seemed to drag on. The only purpose seemed to answer the question of what happened to Robbie and Cecilia, but I think the reveal could have been done in fewer pages and still leave the reader satisfied.
I give this book 4 out of 5 stars for its en pointe writing and character development.