Atonement (OT but no spoilers)

Ian W. Riddell iwriddell at
Mon Apr 21 12:13:39 EDT 2003

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>>  > Which is, for example, why I stopped halfway through Ian McEwan's
>>>  "Atonement." The first half was such a stunning piece of writing that
>>>  I wanted some time to go by efore I started in on the second half
>>>  (which takes place a few years later). It's sitting on my bedside
>>>  table, waiting for the moment I finish Merlin.
>>It's all stunning. I thought the second section was even better than the
>>first, though all the critics I'd read had focused on the country house bit.
>>I wonder if you'll agree? Mind you, my enjoyment of Part One was mitigated
>>by my daughter (who reads a lot of Agatha Christie) repeatedly asking, have
>>you found out what her Crime is yet, have you, have you? What is it? And
>>when I did, she said - oh, is that all?
>I read a couple of McEwan's books years ago, but swore never to read 
>another one because they were so vile. Has he let go of the dead 
>bodies buried in concrete in the basement as a surprise ending? What 
>do you like so much about his writing?

Well, I obviously haven't read that one! But I read them because I 
find the writing compelling, well-crafted, precise, elegant, and 
insightful. I think he's the master of the first chapter. The opening 
chapter of "Enduring Love" is one of the most compelling things I've 
ever read. And the opening chapter of "Atonement" is, in my opinion, 
one of the best character "schetches" I've read. He managed, for me, 
to make a young girl complex and self-aware without turning her into 
an adult.

"Vile" is in the eye of the beholder, I think.


If there's nothing wrong with me, maybe there's something wrong with 
the universe.
Dr. Beverly Crusher

Ian W. Riddell
Instructional Materials Designer
Penn State World Campus
iwr1 at
(814) 571-3124
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