Well, first review is here. I'm a little rusty at the in-depth reviewing thing, mainly with how much you're supposed to go into the plot when you do a summary. So let's just say that there are mild spoilers, but nothing that I think will ruin a person's enjoyment of the book. Let me know how I'm doing, eh?
Author: Ian McEwan
What it's about: H'okay, so it's England between the two world wars. We've got this thirteen year old girl, Briony Tallis, who is of a creative mind. Fancies herself a writer. She's written a play as way to welcome her older brother Leon back to the family's house. Leon's been living in town for a while. Anyway, Briony also has an older sister named Cecilia who has just finished college and is back at the Tallis family house for a stay. Cecilia has been feeling unsatisfied lately, not sure what she wants to do with her life and not sure what's going on between her and her childhood friend Robbie Turner. Lately they've been cool towards each other, and it's been frustrating Cecilia. Things come to a head when, during a fight with Robbie, Cecilia throws off her clothes and jumps into a fountain on the grounds as a way of making a point. Unknown to Cecilia and Robbie, however, Briony sees this and draws her own conclusions. This colors Briony's view of Robbie, and leads to her further misinterpreting the relationship between Cecilia and Robbie. Finally, Briony commits her great crime, what she will eventually have to atone for, an act that shatters the happiness of more than one life.
What I thought: Atonement wasn't all I felt the hype had made it out to be. Nevertheless, it was an interesting read. It's a book that's all about inner conflict and conflicts and relationships between characters, and McEwan excels at writing that. The viewpoints shift between, if I remember correctly, four characters, and you're really able to understand all of their points of view and see how they reach the conclusions that they do. The motivations behind Briony's act are all made clear, and you can see how it would occur to her that she was doing what she thought was best in the situation. Additionally, the musings on the craft of writing made for interesting consideration, and the descriptions were quite lush.
Overall: Probably not something I'll read again, but it was definitely worth reading once.