Thursday, June 2, 2011
Thoughts: Atonement by Ian McEwan
The premise of Atonement begins with a dinner party. With war looming on the horizon, the Tallises gather together for, unbeknownst to them, the last time, along with the gardener’s son Robbie Turner, the “cousins from the north,” and the oldest son’s friend, Paul Marshall. These characters’ lives are changed by a series of events, and a single lie that crashes down on the reader like an avalanche.
And, oh God, the writing. I can’t gush enough about the writing. Never has a writer made me this envious, except for the time I read The Great Gatsby—nobody can beat the Fitz. McEwan mentioned so many little details, but they didn’t bog down the story. They were weaved into the story, and I enjoyed letting them wash over me. There were so many subtle interactions between the characters, and I loved analyzing—over analyzing might be a better word—every single one.
Also, I kowtow to Ian McEwan’s skills when it comes to point-of-view. The first part of the novel is told from the points-of-view of the different characters. Even without revealing the chapter narrator’s identity, I could tell who was talking. Each character not only has a distinct voice, but their thoughts exude a certain individual flavor. McEwan is that good.
This is going to sound lame, but Atonement was pure awesomesauce. I first read McEwan’s The Cement Garden, and that kind of turned me off his work. Now, I can’t wait to get started on his other novels. Not only was Atonement a beautiful story, it made my brain exert a lot of effort as well.