On the hottest day of the summer of 1934, thirteen-year-old Briony Tallis sees her sister Cecilia strip off her clothes and plunge into the fountain in the garden of their country hosue. Watching her is Robbie Turner, her childhood friend who, like Cecilia, has recently come down from Cambridge.
By the end of that day, the lives of all three will have been changed for ever. Robbie and Cecilia will have crossed a boundary they had not even imagined at its start, and will have become victims of the younger girl's imagination. Briony will have witnessed mysteries, and committed a crime for which she will spend the rest of her life trying to atone.
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Atonement is a magnificent novel, shaped and paced with awesome confidence and eloquence - Independent
Subtle as well as powerful, adeptly encompassing comedy as well as atrocity, Atonement is a richly intricate book- A superb achievement which combines a magnificent display of the powers of the imagination with a probing exploration of them - Sunday Times
He is this country's unrivalled literary giant...a fascinatingly strange, unique and gripping novel - Independent on Sunday
The narrative, as always with McEwan, smoulders with slow-burning menace. You know that, even as you savour the voluptuous sentences, something terrible will happen and sure enough it does - The Times