Monday, October 3

Book: Atonement, Ian McEwan

Managed to cram this before Ramadhan starts, but a pretty good cramming it was. Set over much of the last century, the book is about a terrible sin made by a young girl, and how she and her family deal with it over the years.

Plot aside (which was gripping enough) what makes this book for me, again, is the characterisation. McEwan has a fantastic talent in getting the reader to relate to the characters (well, as much as you can to a white English family living during the time). There are many examples of how he does this, but the one that comes to mind now is how Briony, a thirteen year old, wonders about her body and its relation to her soul simply by wondering what makes her fingers move. It's a simple exercise that we've all completed ourselves and so immediately gives this particular character depth and brings her to life. Other examples include the various manifestations of Robbie and Cecilia's feelings for each other, or the daily routine irrelevances in the life of Briony's mother.

Each part (there are four in total) seem to start off slowly, making you wonder whether the best writing was saved for the previous part. But before you know it you're drawn in and surprised and sad even when each part ends, before realising that it had at exactly the right point. More kudos to McEwan.

It almost feels like this was written for the person reading the book at the time. Of course that's silly and is just more evidence of McEwan's talent and is what makes a good book good. Much recommended.