Some comments from reviews of “Atonement”

Review Consensus:

  Only a few with a few reservations — but most are very, very impressed

  From the Reviews:

  • “The extraordinary range of Atonement suggests that there’s nothing McEwan can’t do. (…) We’re each of us, McEwan suggests, composing our lives.” – Ron Charles, Christian Science Monitor
  • “A challenging and brilliant work, it rewards careful attention to the writer’s art. (…) The careful structuring of the work calls attention to its artifice and reminds us of two alternate assertions about what art does: Keats’s Romantic assurance that artistic beauty is truth and Auden’s disclaimer that poetry makes nothing happen. This novel shows how such seemingly contradictory statements can both be true at once. Atonement is a most impressive book, one that may indeed be McEwan’s finest achievement.” – Edward T. Wheeler, Commonweal
  • “It is rare for a critic to feel justified in using the word “masterpiece”, but Ian McEwan’s new book really deserves to be called one. (…) Atonement (…) is a work of astonishing depth and humanity.” – The Economist
  • “Refracting an upper-class nightmare through a war story, McEwan fulfills the conventions he’s playing with, and that very play — in contrast to so much fashionable pomo cleverness — leads to genuine heartbreak.” – Troy Patterson, Entertainment Weekly
  • “Avec des pages d’une subtilité époustouflante: spéléologue de nos abîmes intérieurs, McEwan nous offre une magistrale autopsie de la fragilité humaine, au fil d’un roman qui chatoie comme de la soie. Et qui brûle d’une lumière noire, lorsqu’il explore les inextricables ténèbres de l’âme.” – André Clavel, L’Express
  • “In Abbitte widmet sich Ian McEwan seinen alten, den großen Themen — Liebe und Trennung, Unschuld und Selbsterkenntnis, dem Verstreichen von Zeit –, und er tut dies souveräner, sprachmächtiger und fesselnder denn je.” – Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung
  • “If Atonement tells an engrossing story, supremely well, it also meditates, from start to end, on story-telling and its pitfalls. (…) McEwan has never written into, and out of, literary history so brazenly before.” – Boyd Tonkin, The Independent
  • “Suffice to say, any initial hesitancy about style — any fear that, for once, McEwan may not be not in control of his material — all play their part in his larger purpose. On the one hand, McEwan seems to be retrospectively inserting his name into the pantheon of British novelists of the 1930s and 1940s. But he is also, of course, doing more than this” – Geoff Dyer, The Guardian
  • “All this is at the same time an allegory of art and its moral contradictions. (…) (I)t is not hard to read this novel as McEwan’s own atonement for a lucrative lifetime of magnificent professional lying. I haven’t yet read Peter Carey’s True History of the Kelly Gang that beat this novel to the Booker Prize. But it must be stupendous.” – Terry Eagleton, The Lancet
  • “Ian McEwan’s new novel (…) strikes me as easily his finest (…..) McEwan’s skill has here developed to the point where it gives disquiet as well as pleasure. (…) It is, in perhaps the only possible way, a philosophical novel, pitting the imagination against what it has to imagine if we are to be given the false assurance that there is a match between our fictions and the specifications of reality. The pleasure it gives depends as much on our suspending belief as on our suspending disbelief.” – Frank Kermode, London Review of Books
  • “Il n’est pas sûr qu’Expiation soit, comme on l’a dit, le livre le plus abouti de Ian McEwan. Des longueurs (les scènes de guerre), l’artifice final (le roman dans le roman) peuvent justifier qu’on continue de lui préférer l’étonnant thriller psychologique qu’était Délire d’amour. Mais, pour la première fois, McEwan s’aventure sur les terrains intimes de la nostalgie, du souvenir, de l’extrême fragilité des liens entre les êtres.” – Florence Noiville, Le Monde
  • Abbitte gehört zu den seltenen Romanen, die so makellos komponiert sind, dass man sie kaum aus der Hand legt, bevor nicht die letzte Seite umgeblättert ist. Über weite Strecken ist er geradezu ein Roman comme il faut. (…) Daran wird auch wenig ändern, dass ihm — typisch McEwan — wieder einmal eine Kleinigkeit gründlich missraten ist. “London 1999″, der knapp dreissigseitige Schlussteil, hat das Zeug, als einer der verunglücktesten Romanschlüsse in die englische Literaturhistorie einzugehen.” – Uwe Pralle, Neue Zürcher Zeitung
  • “(C)ertainly his finest and most complex novel. (…) Atonement is both a criticism of fiction and a defense of fiction; a criticism of its shaping and exclusive torque, and a defense of its ideal democratic generosity to all. A criticism of fiction’s misuse; and a defense of an ideal.” – James Wood, The New Republic
  • “On one level, it is manifestly high-calibre stuff: cool, perceptive, serious and vibrant with surprises. (…) So it is probably silly to waste time pointing out that the most glaring aspects of the book are its weaknesses and omissions. As usual, McEwan has contrived a good story; but he seems weirdly reluctant to tell it.” – Robert Winder, New Statesman
  • “(T)his book, McEwan’s grandest and most ambitious yet, is much more than the story of a single act of atonement. (…) It isn’t, in fact, until you get to the surprising coda of this ravishingly written book that you begin to see the beauty of McEwan’s design — and the meaning of his title. (…) (T)rust me, Atonement‘s postmodern surprise ending is the perfect close to a book that explores, with beauty and rigor, the power of art and the limits of forgiveness. Briony Tallis may need to atone, but Ian McEwan has nothing to apologize for.” – Daniel Mendelsohn, New York.
  • Atonement will make you happy in at least three ways: It offers a love story, a war story and a story about stories, and so hits the heart, the guts and the brain. It’s Ian McEwan’s best novel (…..) Atonement is the work of a novelist at peak power; we may hope for more to come.” – Adam Begley, The New York Observer
  • “(I)f it’s plot, suspense and a Bergsonian sensitivity to the intricacies of individual consciousnesses you want, then McEwan is your man and Atonement your novel. It is his most complete and compassionate work to date.” – Tom Shone, The New York Times Book Review
  • “The writing is conspicuously good (…) it works an authentic spell.” – John Updike, The New Yorker
  • “(I)mpressive, engrossing, deep and surprising (…..) Atonement asks what the English novel of the twenty-first century has inherited, and what it can do now.” – Hermione Lee, The Observer
  • “Ian McEwan’s latest novel is a dark, sleek trap of a book. (…) Lying is, after all, what Atonement is about as much as it is about guilt, penitence or, for that matter, art.” – Laura Miller, Salon
  • “(F)lat-out brilliant (…..) McEwan’s writing is lush, detailed, vibrantly colored and intense.” – David Wiegand, San Francisco Chronicle
  • “Whether Briony’s conscience can ever be clear, and, more important, whether McEwan’s purpose can be adequately served by such a device, is open to question. That these are troubling matters is certainly well established. The ending, however, is too lenient. (…) Here his suave attempts to establish morbid feelings as inspiration for a life’s work — and for that work to be crowned with success — are unconvincing.” – Anita Brookner, The Spectator
  • “It might almost be a novel by Elizabeth Bowen. (…) Both sections are immeasurably the most powerful that McEwan, already a master of narrative suspense and horror, has ever written. (…) Subtle as well as powerful, adeptly encompassing comedy as well as atrocity, Atonement is a richly intricate book. Unshowy symmetries and patterns underlie its emotional force and psychological compulsion.” – Peter Kemp, Sunday Times
  • “So much for the virtues of the imagination. But McEwan is crafty. Even as he shows us the damages of story-telling, he demonstrates its beguilements on every page.” – Richard Lacayo, Time
  • “Even by his exacting standards his latest novel is extraordinary. His trademark sentences of sustained eloquence and delicacy, which have sometimes over-rationalised the evocation of emotion, strike a deeper resonance in Atonement.” – Russell Celyn Jones, The Times
  • “My only regret is that because he uses rapid editing and time shifts, too many of the dilemmas and tensions that are established in the first half of the book are left unresolved. (…) Still, the first part of the book is magically readable and never has McEwan shown himself to be more in sympathy with the vulnerability of the human heart.” – Jason Cowley, The Times
  • “McEwan continues to describe, with characteristic limpidity, the house and the dynamics of its inhabitants. His patience is doubly effective, for it generates not only an authentic environment in which the tragedy can eventually unfurl, but also an ever-burgeoning sense of menace. It would devastate the novel’s effect to reveal what does in fact occur. (…) Probably the most impressive aspect to Atonement, however, is the precision with which it examines its own novelistic mechanisms.” – Robert McFarland , Times Literary Supplement
  • “Whether it is indeed a masterpiece — as upon first reading I am inclined to think it is — can be determined only as time permits it to take its place in the vast body of English literature. Certainly it is the finest book yet by a writer of prodigious skills and, at this point in his career, equally prodigious accomplishment.” – Jonathan Yardley, The Washington Post
  • “Ian McEwan hat einen Roman über die Literatur geschrieben, der gleichzeitig ein Roman über den Menschen ist. Gleichzeitig — darin liegt die Kunst. Kein Buch, in dem neben diversen Figuren auch einige literaturtheoretische Überlegungen vorkommen, sondern ein Buch, das nach der Moral des Schreibens fragt und Schreiben, also Imaginieren, als besonders heikle Form sittlichen Handelns betrachtet.” – Evelyn Finger, Die Zeit

About Gorseinonboy

Hi I'm Vernon Goddard, retired and currently living in Lincoln having spent time abroad in France. My wife Carol and I are enjoying life away from having to make a living; instead we're making plenty of new friends in Lincoln. We have new plans for our time together and new adventures to achieve. Hell Lloyds TSB are still paying for it all and you taxpayers in the UK. So thanks ~ we really appreciate your regular contributions to our spending money. And why not stop and contribute on this site. If you have a view about anything I write you're welcome to post a comment or get in touch with me. When I'm not blogging, I write a little, garden a little less, drink and eat some, exercise when pushed, talk for Wales and think about the grandchildren. Well that's me. Gorseinonboy.
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