Atonement

I didn't see the movie, but I checked out the book from the free library last week and started it yesterday and fell deeply in love with the story right away, mostly because I identified with the young girl, Briony, she of the dramatic stories about princes and dark-haired young maidens. She's thirteen and stuck between the world of make-believe and the "real" world of adult problems and concerns. I remember being that age too and having a sense that I was about to lose something really important; the ability to get whole-heartedly caught up in a story or game. The make-believe world was great company. Lisa Marie and I went into this strange store in South Philly yesterday; a cramped shop with window decorations including many Jesus' and bunnies and also, a row of ornately dressed lady dolls. I had a sudden wish that I still could play with dolls because I used to love, love, love to do that (don't worry, I'm not regressing. I'm not going to start wearing bonnets and curling my hair into ringlets and skipping from room to room in a pinafore, tra-la-la-ing about getting ready for a tea party). It's amazing to me that the author of Atonement, Ian McEwan, has the ability to get it so right. How does he know that thirteen year old girls would think like this:



"...Briony knew her only reasonable choice then would be to run away, to live under hedges, eat berries and speak to no one, and be found by a bearded woodsman one winter's dawn, curled up at the base of a giant oak, beautiful and dead, and barefoot or perhaps wearing the ballet pumps with the pink ribbon straps..."


Well, maybe not all thirteen year old girls, but thirteen year old girls who write stories including white horses, rustling velvet dresses, and beautiful, tortured characters who eventually either find there way toward each other or are split apart and die of broken hearts and loneliness.


I read somewhere recently that the book ends with a surprise "reveal," that the person telling the story is someone surprising but my guess is that Briony is the one telling the story years later. It makes the most sense, and would be part of her "atonement" for destroying lives (I haven't yet found out what she does, but it splits the family and causes the requisite unattainable love affair between Cecilia and Robbie. Just quickly: why "Robbie?" It's such a little boy name. Why not Tristan or Caleba or some other more romantic names?). Don't tell me if I'm right or wrong about the narrator though. I suppose after I finish, I'll have to get Amsterdam too.

Comments

Ben said…
I don't think you ever stopped being that girl.
Aimee said…
Maybe not. I still make up way too many stories--no princes or princesses anymore though.
Ben said…
really? they may not wear crowns and tights but...

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