Author: Ian McEwan
Date Finished: 8/08/14
Re-Read? : First time read
Challenges? : The Classics Club
Overall: 5/5 – absolutely fantastic
I was very pleasantly surprised with this book – I didn’t know what to expect before I picked it up. On holiday last week in Italy I thought it would be good to get my teeth into a more challenging read so I chose this. It is actually much easier to read than I anticipated and certainly a lot more gripping. The setting is (firstly) 1935 in England at a family estate – the book focuses on one very eventful day in which Briony commits a crime she will try to atone for over the course of her life.
Despite knowing the basic outline of the story already, the way McEwan manages to make pretty much every page totally gripping is amazing! I just had to keep reading, especially in part 1 (the setting at the house). I did rush through the ending a bit and maybe that’s why I thought it was just slightly weak compared to the rest of the book – this encourages me to put it on my re-read list and definitely to watch the film adaptation which I’ve heard lots of good things about.
The characters are a unique bunch a lot of whom I will be remembering for quite a while. Briony, Cecelia and Robbie were very very vivid and following characters from childhood (or young-adulthood) through their lives always makes you feel like you know them very well. McEwan manages to comment on many types of person in this reasonably short book (371 pages) – a distracted husband, a caring but ineffective mother, lovers, deceivers, victims, manipulators and cowards. Of course he also brings the brutality of WWII to us very vividly and manages to show how damaging the soldiers’ experiences were to themselves in later life.
This is a very very good book and I really recommend it to you. It’s rather brutal and honest in its language and storyline but it kept me reading and gave me lots to think about at the same time too.