Readers find love in “Atonement”

On Valentine’s Day, we’re all looking for a little sap. Single, taken, everyone tends to get wrapped up in the loving spirit, whether they want to admit it or not. So what better book to read on a day devoted to love than one that reaffirms that, yes, love is enduring, even in the most undesirable of circumstances.

I have not seen the movie so I can’t make any comparisons, but remember- the book is always better anyway, right? “Atonement,” by Ian McEwan, starts in England in 1935, just a few years before the second World War. Briony Tallis, a young dreamer and writer, is trying to find some excitement in her life by creating drama for those close to her, namely her sister Cecelia and family friend Robbie Turner. As a relationship begins to blossom between the two, Briony misinterprets an act of romance by Cecelia and Robbie as an attack and thinks it is Robbie who violated her cousin, Lola. This assumption not only leads to Robbie’s arrest and eventual jail time, but also to a feud that tears the sisters apart.

By Bethany Merryman

Contributor

On Valentine’s Day, we’re all looking for a little sap. Single, taken, everyone tends to get wrapped up in the loving spirit, whether they want to admit it or not. So what better book to read on a day devoted to love than one that reaffirms that, yes, love is enduring, even in the most undesirable of circumstances.

I have not seen the movie so I can’t make any comparisons, but remember- the book is always better anyway, right? “Atonement,” by Ian McEwan, starts in England in 1935, just a few years before the second World War. Briony Tallis, a young dreamer and writer, is trying to find some excitement in her life by creating drama for those close to her, namely her sister Cecelia and family friend Robbie Turner. As a relationship begins to blossom between the two, Briony misinterprets an act of romance by Cecelia and Robbie as an attack and thinks it is Robbie who violated her cousin, Lola. This assumption not only leads to Robbie’s arrest and eventual jail time, but also to a feud that tears the sisters apart.

So where’s this everlasting love? Trust me, it’s there. For the three years Robbie spends in jail, he and Cecelia continue their affair through a series of carefully worded love letters. The accusations and time apart has not killed their affections, but rather strengthened them. After his release he enters the army and is thrown into the battles of World War II. Her letters are what give him the strength to continue fighting.

The novel ends in 1999, wrapping up the story of our lovers and how their relationship has impacted not only their lives, but also the lives of the family. Sadly, it is not the most rewarding of endings. While a gloss of their lives is given, the story jumps suddenly from the war to 1999, leaving the reader with huge gaps and questions to answer. Or maybe that was McEwan’s intent. Sometimes it’s more interesting to create our own stories for the characters, rather than have them written for us.