Atonement: A Novel

Atonement - Ian McEwan One of the questions asked in the beautiful Atonement seems to be, from how much might literature save you? Are its efforts illusionary, and does the telling of elaborate lies matter to those they might concern when, say, written instead of spoken? Or when the stories in them are actual instead of contrived? Does the form of the fiction, its hieroglyph, make any difference in its weight or meaning or matter? If the atonement here is being made by its narrator – whose revelation of existence in the novel is done perfectly – it becomes the question of a lifetime. But bargains are made with many devils in this book: the lie of the Amo bar, the lie of the marriage, the lie that serves as gravity to all bodies in orbit of this book. (Robbie’s note, in its vulgarity, may be the truest, if least artfully told story here.) At its heart, Atonement is a novel perhaps not of love as it is made (and destroyed, and then reconstructed from the pieces), but of love deserved. And does the deserving, if it does not spare you, save you? Is it so horrible a lie to wish it would?