Atonement by Ian McEwan

Atonement by Ian McEwan (unabridged audiobook read by Jill Tanner; 14 hours on 12 discs): I wanted, so desperately, to like this novel. But the fact of the matter is that I found it tremendously tedious. Though the back cover blurb talks of young Briony’s mistaken accusation regarding her cousin’s sexual assault and its horrible consequences, this event does not actually happen until about halfway through the book. The plot is buried in page after page of literary navel-gazing, and the “twist” ending put me off so much that I wondered why I’d wasted all that time getting there. I suspect the movie is tidier, assuming it leaves out such thrilling passages as Briony pondering the possibility of her not being the star of everyone else’s life story while watching her finger bend back and forth. The writing itself was fine – the description quite vivid, the language very, er, literary – but I found the whole thing tiresome and I frankly can’t understand why so many rave about this lengthy piece of rambling blather.

Also posted on BookCrossing.

  1. Apropos of nothing…
    I think it is partially my technical writing training that makes me dislike overly “literary” writing a lot. You know who uses big words just to show me they know how to use big words? Cranks who don’t have the math to back it up, that’s who.

  2. I like literary writing, but not navel-gazing. Amusing review.

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