Atonement is one of the novels which I studied for AS English Literature and it rapidly became one of my favourite novels. I love how it deals with the idea of writing and how we read, or misread things. Briony misreads many of the situations within the novel which changes the course of Robbie and Cecilia’s love and it is for this that she atones: it is indirectly due to Briony that both Robbie and Cecilia die having never spent their lives together.
Misreading is not the only level to which this idea of writing stretches; this is also a novel which is very conscience of the process of writing. We are constantly reminded of the fact that we are reading a novel. For example, when we first encounter Briony she is writing a play, it is Robbie’s letter to Cecilia which plants the seed of doubt as to his character in Briony’s mind, when Robbie is in prison he and Cecilia communicate through letters and finally, we are told that Briony herself is writing this novel albeit some 60 years later.
I must admit that I did shed a tear or two when the real fate of Robbie and Cecilia is revealed, but I'm not sure whether I've been influenced somewhat by the film adaptation starting Kiera Knightley and James McAvoy!
There is something really captivating about Atonement and I definitely would not hesitate in recommending it, especially for some good summer reading!!!
Please let me know your comments below on either the book or the film, I'd be really interested to know what other people thought.