I have read a review of the movie "Atonement" recently.  I can't remember where I read it but it aroused my curiosity of the book.  I decided to pick it up from our local library.  Luckily, I was able to find a copy of it without trouble.  It took me almost an entire weekend of reading to finish the book. 

Ian McEwan's novel “Atonement” is beautiful and wrenching, brilliant and enthralling, psychologically penetrating, and elegantly written with metaphors and insight into human characters and struggle.  The novel’s theme surrounds guilt, truth, justice, honesty, innocence, punishment and atonement.  It is gorgeously detailed in its depiction of love, shame, morality, racism, snobbery, cowardice, redemption and life's ironies with scenes full of emotional deluge. It explores and examines the impossibility of absolution, the complexity of human consciousness, the staggering implications of lies, the harm of innocence and ignorance, and the profound impact of imagination and misunderstanding.


You might not see the empathy or compassion that you desire.  However, it is as real as in real life; the wronged are not always vindicated.  Life is not always fair.  Whatever we do bears certain consequences and may have unintentionally hurt others and to the extreme damaged the life of another.  What is done cannot be undone.  Things aren’t always repairable.  Whatever redemption or atonement we seek may not be enough.  We need to be careful of jumping into conclusions and be mindful of their implications and consequences.  Things are not always black and white as seen by the thirteen-year-old girl, Briony.  It takes courage to admit our mistakes.  Aren’t we always so quick to judge with our sense of justice and righteousness?  Could we have been blinded with our emotions and with our perceived truth?  Aren’t we all so self-consumed, immersed in our own self-conceitedness, arrogance and ignorance, incapable of perceiving the extent to which lives may have been altered?  Isn’t it easy for us to just go with the flow?       


The story is set in a chain of events spinning out of control and leading to whirling culmination.  Each misstep leads to catastrophic turn of events and cascades into tragedy.  The protagonist, a 13-year-old girl, Briony, nearing the edge of adolescence, takes extraordinary flights of imagination.  She witnesses events beyond her comprehension and misreads the glimpsed intimacies she saw between Robbie and Cecilia a scandal.  Her misconception of the adult world leads her to condemn an innocent person and the consequences of her actions change the lives of all those around her.  


I will not go into details of the story.  It has a surprising twist of ending.  What captivates me is the first part of the story.  I won’t say how I feel about the rest.  Read it yourself.  To many of us, we might feel that there is something missing.  It might fall short of what we perceive a true atonement is.  As stated in the novel “To be safe, one would have to be bland and obscure.”  We are all a bunch of coward.  Nonetheless, Briony might already have suffered enough in her living years, living in guilt for the tragedy she brought. 


Anyway, I still think that it is a well written novel as I stated earlier, beautiful and wrenching.


** 版權所有 – Elisa English 


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