Atonement by Ian McEwan

Four Stars

Available at Amazon

I began reading this book upon recommendation of a writing coach. She said it provided excellent examples of scene creation and character building. She was correct. Not only that, the story of the Tallis family, which centered on the younger daughter, Briony, drew me in. Briony, at thirteen years old, believed she was the consummate writer. First, by writing a play, in which her cousins would perform, and then transforming her imagination to the art of novel writing.

The problem with Briony was she didn’t always recognize the truth. I read this intriguing novel not knowing if anything she said was true. Two of her lies resulted in sending an innocent man, her sister’s love, to jail and ripping apart her family. The story progresses from 1935 when Briony was thirteen through the beginning of World War II with her sister’s love surviving prison only to be caught up in the evacuation of Dunkirk. The last part of Atonement is a party for her seventy-seventh birthday at her childhood home which has been converted into a hotel.

The entire book is a study for writers on how to describe scenery, build compelling characters, and integrate the various separate characters’ lives into a finished product. I will not limit my recommendation to only writers, it is an excellent story of readers fond of World War II stories and literary novels.