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(Atonement) By McEwan, Ian (Author) Paperback on (02 , 2003) [Anglais] [Broché]

Ian McEwan

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Atonement McEwan, Booker Prize-winning author of "Amsterdam, " has created a symphonic novel of love and war, childhood and class, guilt and forgiveness that provides all the satisfaction of a brilliant narrative combined with the provocation readers have come to expect from this master of English prose. Full description

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Amazon.com: 3.9 étoiles sur 5  992 commentaires
342 internautes sur 383 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
5.0 étoiles sur 5 Trials of a summer night 11 avril 2003
Par Charles Slovenski - Publié sur Amazon.com
This is an engaging story and so finely written that the reading is both effortless and seductive. After I had finished (that is, after drying my eyes and regaining my breath), I was amazed to realize how complex a plot it is considering how smoothly it is told. By far, it is the best book I have read in years.
The story starts on a summer day at a large country estate in pre-WWII England. For anyone who delights in the heady mix of intelligence, innocence and youthful imagination, the beginning is like eating rich chocolate: 13 year old Briony has written a play -- the references to Austen, Burney, and family performances within 18th century lore are abundant and perfect -- to be rehearsed and performed by her unwilling and displaced visiting cousins in order to celebrate her brother's return to home with his sophisticated friend. However, reheasals in the playroom for THE TRIALS OF ARABELLA (of course) do not run smoothly: the twins boys do not understand what is expected of them; there's tension between Briony and 15 year old Lola. During the hot summer afternoon, Briony looks out the window to see her older sister Cecilia and Robbie, the cleaning lady's son, having what looks like some kind of menacing (and intimate) interaction in the fountain. The rest of the day's events and mishaps play out without implication until nightfall when a real crime of a sexual nature occurs and Briony's overactive imagination and lack of sophistication lead her to make a accusation which results in genuine tragedy for everyone. Without revealing the entire plot and overwhelming descriptions of war and survival, Briny spends her life paying for this mistake. Near the end of her long life, and having enjoyed without enjoyment a successful writing career, Briony's birthday is celebrated by her relations. This party is held at the old country house, now a renovated hotel, where her grand nieces and nephews perform THE TRIALS OF ARABELLA, a deeply emotional and incomprehensible experience for all (the surviving twin boy, now an old man, breaks down completely, as will nearly every reader).
This book goes into my unofficial rank as one of the best reading experiences I've ever had. It tooks me days to shake the feeling that Briony was a part of my life. I was completely transported and I don't think there can be better praise than that.
443 internautes sur 500 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
5.0 étoiles sur 5 If God were a novelist 13 mars 2002
Par Eileen Galen - Publié sur Amazon.com
I picked up this good-looking book with no advance knowledge of its plot - just a liking for other works of its author - and I'm grateful for that, and won't give away the story here. I was grabbed by its first description, and held closely throughout. McEwan has created characters who are so fully realized that I felt as if I had known them for years. It's an amazing story, though not at all far-fetched. It's slyly easy to read - think "page-turner" - but it is about vitally important things. In addition considerable historic research went into it, and that's a delicious plus.
McEwan invites you into an English world that you will smell, hear, feel, and taste - and your mind and emotions will be fully engaged. The family has money and servants but this is nothing you've seen on television or the movies. The story is told with discipline and control, and from several points of view. The people are palpably real. It's a tightly organized and satisfying assemblage of the things that matter, among them family life, childhood, debt and obligation, loyalty, imagination, faith and hope, innocence and guilt, love, desire, varieties of destruction - and the urge to make a difference. Finally: war and peace. (In fact, you might be reminded of Tolstoy in more than a few ways.) In addition it's a fierce and moving meditation on the life of the mind and creativity. At the same time, McEwan's powers of description are such that all of your senses are never anything but fully engaged. English country life in the 1930's - a heat wave, and the fragrance of wildflowers, the feel of a silk dress that is sticking to skin, the thick dark of a moonless summer night - through the horrors of the Second World War (Dunkirk most dramatically and effectively) and beyond. It is either sheer brilliance, or a deeply humane urge, or maybe just a workmanlike sense, but McEwan takes full responsibility for each of his characters- and sees them through to the end.
Nearly every page has something unselfconsciously remarkable to think about - or to reconsider. I used my pencil throughout; there is so much that is wise or just plain awe-inspiring in this book. McEwan has accomplished something amazing. I'm telling friends to read the book first, reviews second. The story is so terrific, and so moving and important - and might unfold best for the reader who comes to it blissfully uninformed. It's not very often that I've felt transformed by a novel. Read it as soon as you can.
73 internautes sur 79 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
4.0 étoiles sur 5 Crime without punishment 11 novembre 2002
Par Friederike Knabe - Publié sur Amazon.com
A number of reviews have summarized the story of the 'crime' of 13 year-old Briony and the resulting dramatic changes that occur in the lives of the key characters: in addition to the young girl, her older sister Cecilia, her cousin as well as the son of the housekeeper, Robbie. The first part of the book covers one hot summer day in rural England in 1935 where the tragedy unfolds. The atmosphere is masterfully evoked and the evolving drama sensitively depicted. To this reader the most successful facet of the chapter and the novel overall is the characterization of Briony. In many ways, this is Her story, seen from different angles and from different time perspectives. She is, as the late arrival to her parents, a typical mix of a spoilt and neglected child. She lives in her own fantasy world where the realities of her surroundings are mixed in with the wild imaginations of a romantic of her age. McEwan captures the capricious teenager very well indeed. He also paints an excellent portrait of the upper-middleclass family and its open and hidden frustrations and tensions. Cecilia is also well drawn as the returning fresh (women's) college graduate. She tends to replace the mother for Briony and a set of cousins, but at the same time she is uncertain of her own identity. This part of the book is the most engaging, it draws the characters well and builds up the tension up to the 'crime'.
The rest of the novel does not maintain the momentum created. The story picks up five years later with Robbie at the front in France after having spent the intervening years in prison for THE crime, which he did not commit. Briony, obviously in part as a result of her guilt for blaming Robbie rather than the real aggressor in a false testimony, has decided to train as a nurse in London. We also learn that her actions resulted in her sister refusing to communicate with her and the rest of the family.
One wonders why the very detailed description of the retreat from the front to Dunkirk with a wounded Robbie as the main character was necessary. Based on extensive research of historical documents, McEwan offers an excellent account of the dramas of that retreat, however, its significance for this particular story is not evident. The incidental facts one learns about the intervening years, the protagonists and their changed relationships do not justify the importance given to this chapter. The exception is the description of Briony's life as a nurse which is more to the point. An extensive duty period where she is suddenly confronted with the dramatic influx of seriously wounded soldiers leaves a deep impression. The learning curve that changes her from an innocent and irresponsible 18 year old to an adult during those hours is well drawn. Her actions following this experience, although somewhat unconvincing, are intended to demonstrate her resolve to confront her 'atonement'.
The novel ends with an epilogue set some 55 years later. It depicts Briony as a successful writer of a certain age. While preparing for a birthday party in her honour, she reflects not only on her life but also on the question of atonement. I agree with those reviewers who commented on the weakness of the ending of the novel. The concept of a story in a story and the author's privilege to change major aspects of the story line to give it more of 'happy ending', does not sound quite convincing. Atonement is not achieved by making the characters survive and live happily ever after. Briony, even at 77, remains the capricious little person that she was at 13. She still invents fantasies and refuses to take responsibility for her actions.
44 internautes sur 47 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
5.0 étoiles sur 5 Beautiful 26 mars 2003
Par jamesa31 - Publié sur Amazon.com
I loved this book. I've read many of the reviews here on Amazon and feel that a lot of them are over-critical. This is a beautiful story seeping heartbreak on every page, all the result of the destructive imagination of a child. It is very easy to hate Briony for the way her actions have destroyed the happiness of her sister and Robbie, but I believe that's quite unfair. She acts with the innocence of a child at a particular age who wants to be accepted by the adult world. She is placed in a very difficult situation and the court's readiness to pass judgement on the strength of her evidence alone is, I believe, just as much a crime as her lies.
One criticism I would accept is that Ian McEwan could have shown us more of Briony's stubborn attachment to the lie she has convinced herself is true. At what point did she start having doubts? When we meet up with her again towards the end of the book she is five years older and fully aware that Robbie is innocent. It would have allowed the reader to have more sympathy towards her if we could have seen her reaction as the truth of what she had done slowly grew larger on her conscience.
The book is split into four sections. The first details life in the Tallis family home in the mid-1930s and gives us an introduction to the characters and description of the assault and Briony's lie. This section of the book slowly builds - some reviewers say they found this boring but I did not. I enjoyed hearing about life in the household. I could empathise with Briony's playwriting attempt and its sabotage at the hands of her slightly older cousin. McKewan vividly describes events and allows us upfront access into his characters' minds which makes his writing very enjoyable to read. I found this first section to be like the first scene in a whodunit mystery, before the detective comes to investigate and letting the skeletons out of the cupboard. Except there was no Poirot to come and uncover the truth but instead an injustice was allowed. Nevertheless, a whodunit was created that would later be explained at the end of the book. I counted three suspects, each with an opportunity to commit the crime.
The second section of the book jumps forwards to the Second World War and the British army's retreat from France. The jump is a little jarring and it takes a while to adjust to the new surroundings. But I think it successfully creates the feeling that regardless of an injustice in the past, life carries on and doesn't stop to allow justice to be done. Events move on and people get on with their lives and the injustice is largely forgotten. Robbie, a mere private in the army, despite his education, is retreating to Dunkirk in an attempt to get back to England. His only motivation to survive comes from the knowledge that Cecilia is waiting for him to return - he had only just come out of prison before having to leave for the war. Here is where McKewan description is exemplary. The chaotic retreat comes to life and Robbie's aching desire to see his lover again is easy to feel.
The third part of the book catches up with Briony. She now knows her crime and seeks atonement for it. Partly to try to compensate for the pain she has caused, she forgoes university and becomes a nurse, just in time for the casualties from France to start arriving. Briony attempts reconciliation with her sister. The key twists in the plot are at this point so I won't go further except to say that McKewan plays with your expectations perfectly so that the revelations are dramatic.
Finally we jump forwards to the present day. Briony is an old lady and a famous writer but she is dying. She tells us her story and we are rewarded with another twist to the book which puts everything we have read into a new light.
I would strongly recommend this book to anyone looking for rewarding modern literature. Clearly from the reviews this book is not to everyone's tastes but I must admit I find this puzzling as I adored it and will now be searching out other Ian McKewan books to read.
41 internautes sur 44 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
4.0 étoiles sur 5 Reminiscent of Henry James, but with a touch of metafiction 20 août 2002
Par Debbie Lee Wesselmann - Publié sur Amazon.com
Ian McEwan's Atonement has the feel of classical literature: an elegant and slightly formal style, generous details, and a straightforward plot. Briony Tallis, a spoiled British 13 year old, spies her older sister Cecilia and the caretaker's son Robbie as they wrestle with an antique vase next to a fountain. Although Briony imagines herself as mature, she does not yet have an adult understanding of the world. When the events that follow do not fit her scope of comprehension, she forces them into place with a lie that forever changes the people she involves. The novel follows the principals through the war and ends as Briony faces her own mortality in 1999.
Especially during the first part (there are four) which takes place just before World War II, I could not help thinking of Henry James and his intricate exploration of character and relationships. I had to keep reminding myself that I was reading a contemporary novel. The only aspect that jarred me into the 21st century was McEwan's use of metafiction (fiction about writing fiction.) Briony is an aspiring writer when the story begins, but we are told almost from the start that she will become an accomplished novelist. Throughout, Briony is keenly aware of the demands of her craft and how they distort the truth. As the novel progresses, the reader is made more and more aware of this self-conscious side until the end, when the final section deals with this issue alone.
Personally, I'm tired of metafiction and find it contrived; however, McEwan's polished writing atones for this literary sin. The details of life both before and during the war are extraordinary, as are the intricate characterizations. Although parts of this novel are overdone, it is McEwan's expertness that triumphs.
Atonement is a fine book that deserves widespread attention. I recommend this book for serious readers and those who yearn for more classicism in contemporary literature. You'll want to skip this novel, however, if you don't have the patience for detail or are looking for a suspenseful or complicated plot.
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