Atonement (OT but no spoilers)

Charles Butler hannibal at
Mon Apr 21 14:43:39 EDT 2003

> I really enjoyed the first part, but somehow the second one irked me. I
> remember I was vaguely thinking that the book would have been better
> the second part, actually. I wonder whether I got it all right, because of
> course the writer tried to convey something through the second part and
> I could think was that it didn't make sense.
> I think Briony and co. would have been better off without further
> storytelling. People are always saying that it's good to leave room for
> imagination. It most certainly isn't the best excuse there is to justify a
> wish to completely change the anatomy of a book and leave out a big part
> it, but it'll have to do as I have nothing else to base my opinion on.

It's hard to disagree in any constructive way without introducing spoilers,
but for me I think it was partly the fact that I've read God knows how many
books set in country houses in the 1930's, but precious little about the
retreat to Dunkirk, so the material was fresher and more immediate somehow -
less filtered through Brideshead and a thousand other books and images (and
I felt that McEwan, no less than I, was having to step around these rather

Just popped into my head, though - I really liked that scene from Part 1
where Briony is whipping the heads off nettles and imagining an Olympic
commentator describing how she does it. That rang very true!


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