On the hottest day of the summer of 1935, 13-year-old Briony Tallis sees her older sister Cecilia strip off her clothes and plunge into the fountain in the garden of their country house. Watching Cecilia is their housekeeper's son Robbie Turner, a childhood friend who, along with Briony's sister, has recently graduated from Cambridge. By the end of the day the lives of all three will have been changed forever. Robbie and Cecilia will have crossed a boundary they had not dared to approach and will have become victims of the younger girl's scheming imagination. And Briony will have committed a dreadful crime, the guilt for which will color her entire life.
Atonement is at its center a profound, and profoundly moving, exploration of shame and forgiveness, and the difficulty in absolution.
"McEwan at his most closely observed and psychologically penetrating, his most sweeping and expansive...masterfully crafted." (Publishers Weekly)
"It is rare for a critic to feel justified in using the word 'masterpiece', but Ian McEwan's new book really deserves to be called one...it is a work of astonishing depth and humanity." (The Economist)
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Hard to suspend belief
- S. Michael