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2002 National Book Critics Circle Award Winner
Ian McEwan’s symphonic novel of love and war, childhood and class, guilt and forgiveness provides all the satisfaction of a brilliant narrative and the provocation we have come to expect from this master of English prose.
On a hot summer day in 1935, thirteen-year-old Briony Tallis witnesses a moment’s flirtation between her older sister, Cecilia, and Robbie Turner, the son of a servant and Cecilia’s childhood friend. But Briony’s incomplete grasp of adult motives–together with her precocious literary gifts–brings about a crime that will change all their lives. As it follows that crime’s repercussions through the chaos and carnage of World War II and into the close of the twentieth century, Atonement engages the reader on every conceivable level, with an ease and authority that mark it as a genuine masterpiece.
“A beautiful and majestic fictional panorama.”—John Updike, The New Yorker
“Flat-out brilliant. . . . Lush, detailed, vibrantly colored and intense.” –San Francisco Chronicle
“A tour de force. . . . Every bit as affecting as it is gripping.” —Michiko Kakutani, The New York Times
“No one now writing fiction in the English language surpasses Ian McEwan.” –The Washington Post Book World
“A work of astonishing depth and humanity.” –The Economist
“His most complete and passionate book to date.” —The New York Times Book Review
“In the seriousness of its intentions and the dazzle of its language, Atonement made me starry-eyed all over again on behalf of literature’s humanizing possibilities.” –Daphne Merkin, Los Angeles Times
“Resplendent. . . . Graceful. . . . Magisterial. . . . Gloriously realized.” –The Boston Sunday Globe
“McEwan is technically at the height of his powers.” –The New York Review of Books
“Astonishing. . . . [with] one of the most remarkable erotic scenes in modern fiction. . . . [It] is something you will never forget.” –Chicago Tribune
“Enthralling. . . . With psychological insight and a command of sensual and historical detail, Mr. McEwan creates an absorbing fictional world.” –The Wall Street Journal
“[Atonement] hauls a defining part of the British literary tradition up to and into the 21st century.” –The Guardian
“McEwan is one of the most gifted literary storytellers alive. . . . [Atonement] implants in the memory a living, flaming presence.” –James Wood, The New Republic
“[McEwan’s] best novel so far. . . . It will break your heart.” –The Star (Toronto)
“A masterpiece of moral inquiry. . . . Beautiful and wrenching.” –New York
“Magnificent. . . . McEwan forces his readers to turn the pages with greater dread and anticipation than does perhaps any other ‘literary’ writer working in English today.” –Claire Messud, The Atlantic Monthly
“The extraordinary range of Atonement suggests that there’s nothing McEwan can’t do.” –The Christian Science Monitor
“A novel of artistry, power and truth that puts it among the most extraordinary works of fiction of the last decade. . . . It is, quite simply, magnificent–a masterpiece.” –Michael Pakenham, The Baltimore Sun
“Magical. . . . A love story, a war story, and a story about stories, and so it hits the heart, the guts and the brain.” –The New York Observer
“Atonement can’t be laid down once it’s been picked up. . . . [McEwan] can write rings around most others writing in English today.” –The Weekly Standard