Book Review: Atonement by Ian McEwan


I thought Atonement was just okay. It’s a terrific idea, about how the smallest actions and mistakes can alter lives forever, and the ending is lovely – if a little contrived in that it ends at her birthday party to allow for a large gathering of people to tie up the question of what happened to everybody in the end – but the writing is extremely dense and I never got to that point where you think, “Okay, I’m really into this now.”

In the first half of the book, because you see the same situations separately through the eyes of the three main characters, it is repetitive, which might have been okay if there was a lot going on. But there wasn’t. Not a lot happened.

None of the characters are all that likeable and I actually wanted to know more about the story of Paul Marshall and Lola Quincey (supporting characters), which I suspect would have been more interesting.

Rather than a narrative that flows and links throughout, this is more like a series of small vignettes that just happen to involve the same main characters.

And the rejection letter that Briony receives after submitting her novella to a publisher, to me this read exactly like a rejection letter that Ian McEwan would have received after submitting this novel.

I can check it off my list now but I almost regret having it so high on my to-read list.

3 stars

*First published on Goodreads 1 January 2013


2 thoughts on “Book Review: Atonement by Ian McEwan

  1. Sophia xx

    I loved this book so much but yes I also wanted to know why she married him. I think Paul Marshall is a love to hate character. Even though he has a minor role he has a huge part to play. I think also Ian McEwan included Paul Marshall to highlight class due to Paul Marshall getting away with it. In the beginning I thought Paul Marshall was a bit suspicious however didn’t think he would do anything like that however the questions I have are.
    Why did she marry him?
    Did he abuse her when they were married?
    Did he have affairs?
    Why didn’t they have children?

    Sophia xx


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