Atonement by Ian McEwan

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 house. Watching her is Robbie Turner, her childhood friend who, like Cecilia, has recently come down from Cambridge.

Briony badly misconstrues this and another incident. 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. One is strongly reminded of the letter of Tess Durbeyfield to Angel Clare in the novel by Hardy, which by sliding under a carpet and being undetected changes the course of everything. Upon such miniscule fulcra hang our fates.

Published by Ian McEwan ( in 2001.

Beautifully filmed in 2007 ( with James McAvoy as Robbie Turner and Keira Knightly as Cecilia Tallis. The scenes on the beach at Dunkirk are jaw dropping.

384 pages in Vintage paperback edition.

ISBN 978-0099429791

Ian McEwan

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