EPS Review #64 - Atonement

by Ian McEwan, 2002

I read this a long while ago. Unusually for her, Patricia insisted that I read it. It starts off really well -- the writing is excellent, and Briony is enjoyably nasty. I still remember her observation of the love scene by the water fountain. Then, about a third of the way through, we get the mistakenly-delivered letter. My red-blooded wife loved this bit, and it is rousing stuff. But to me it portended Plot, and my heart sank. Sure enough, the fun is over at this point -- we get the cops, the big lie, the War, and what is I usually consider the ultimate novelistic sin, self-reference. Bletch. To be fair, I think the Economist or someone loved the War part. I hated all the final two thirds. A quick survey of the low-score Amazon reviews show they all felt the exact opposite: too much description at the start. Hey, if you want plot, read genre fiction.