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It is 1935, the eve of World War II, and strange things are happening at the elegant Tallis family estate in the rich English countryside. The parents are away, and the children will play. The youngest is thirteen-year-old Briony, an odd, observant girl with grand plans for her newest literary masterpiece, a play that she wants her visiting cousins to put on for her much-admired big brother Leon. Gorgeous sister Cecilia is the object of desire for the housemaid’s smart and handsome son Robbie. When Briony intercepts some correspondence and misreads some signals between Robbie and Cecilia, her overactive imagination puts a sinister twist on words and actions. And when the evening ends with a violent assault on cousin Lola, it is Briony’s testimony alone that incriminates Robbie. Robbie is arrested and sent to prison and, through an early release, to war. Cecilia, furious and scornful of her little sister’s accusation, sweeps out of the family home and begins a career nursing wounded soldiers in London. Five years pass, and Briony, now an eighteen-year-old nursing student, is laboring under the impression that she may have been very, very wrong. As Briony attempts to bridge the gap between what she saw and what happened, author Ian McEwan unfolds a plot of what-ifs and might-have-beens. Robbie struggles to survive the horrors of war, Cecilia clings to a few precious memories, and Briony woefully strives to make amends. There are surprises and twists, life-altering tragedies and small glimmers of hope, and an ending that brings the interweaving stories together into a heart-wrenching finale that won’t easily be forgotten. A Booker Prize finalist and a National Book Critics Circle Award winner, Atonement is a haunting tale of love, memory, doubt, and truth.
posted Jan 29, 2010 at 12:11AM
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Imaginative; aspiring writer.
Age: Young adult
Recent Cambridge graduate; Briony's sister.
Age: Young adult
Recent Cambridge graduate; son of the Tallis' cleaning lady.