ATONEMENT

Author(s): 

Winner of the 1998 Booker Prize, Mr. McEwan enthralls readers with his latest novel detailing the repercussions of a young girl's fabrication.

In pre-World War II England, 13-year-old Briony Tallis immerses herself in a fantasy world of writing while her older sister, Cecilia, languishes at their manor home, unsure of her future. Having recently completed her education at Cambridge, Cecilia resents the fact that Robbie Turner, the charwoman's son, also graduated from Cambridge and was financed by her father.

A summer evening begins innocently enough, as Briony stages a play to wecome home her much-adored older brother, Leon. She casts her 15-year-old cousin Lola and even Lola's 9-year-old twin brothers, Jackson and Pierrot, despite their inability to act.

The evening homecoming celebration becomes disastrous when the twins turn up missing. As everyone searches in the dark for the two boys, an unknown assailant harms Lola. Call it misplaced confidence or vengeance, but Briony assures the police that she knows her cousin's attacker and accuses Robbie, who is jailed according to her word alone.

But her misguided accusations have a dramatic affect on all present at that fateful dinner. As the young Briony matures throughout her life, she tries to make ammends for her false accusation. In a stunning conclusion, Briony is seen as an elderly author reminiscing about her life, what it was and what it is now.

With the power of a truly gifted author, Mr. McEwan creates scenes as memorable for their detail as for the impact that each character's actions have upon the lives of others. The author draws the reader deep into the psyches of the players, and their experiences in this turbulent time in the history of England. And most memorably, Mr. McEwan's latest has the unique ability to totally engross the reader into the intricate plot of this novel. (Available now, 448 pp., $26.00)

Reviewed by: 
Sheri Melnick