Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Ian McEwan: Atonement

Just as I finished my last blog entry approx. ten million years ago I also finished this book. Since then I have not read much at all - well, I reread all my Mma Ramotswe books, but that hardly counts. Not because I don't like them, but because they're so easy to read and all.

Atonement is also easy to read, albeit considerably wordier. It's a better novel than the last McEwan I read, definitely, and this could be why the cover blurb labels it McEwan's masterpiece. But it hasn't stuck with me. I wonder why this is - isn't it funny how some things you read cement themselves into your brain, but others do not? Even if they're objectively speaking better literature...? I think I'm just not a huge fan of the rather wordy, introspective style that McEwan is an example of. Briony, who is 12 or so when the story begins, has an incredibly profound lightbulb moment about her writing which goes on for a good few pages and baffles me a little because is she thinking this as a 12-year-old? Really? Is the author interpreting her confusion into this succinct form? I wonder I wonder. Then Briony commits her crime, her false accusation, and that bit is great, it was hard to turn the pages knowing that she was going to go down that route - please Briony don't! but she does. Then comes very good descriptions of being in the war, very blunt and without hero-worshiping - I liked those bits a lot too, and then a lot of bits about how tough it was to be a nurse in those days, and then it sort of ends. And I'm not sure if I really liked it as a package. I've spent more time thinking about what to write about this book than I've spent remembering the book itself.

Maybe I'm just thick though. Not impossible.

2 comments:

Elisabeth said...

Have you seen the movie? I must say this was one instance where I almost liked the film more than the book, since I found the book just too long at times (first 100 pages or so didn't get me hooked). Must admit that is was years since I read the book, though...

bani said...

No, haven't seen the film and after this book am not likely to.

Am very impressed by how you subtly managed to point out that I'm very late in reading this book. :P