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Friday, February 22, 2008

Opinions Vary on Atonement

As the nominator and leader for Atonement, by Ian McEwan, I'd like to thank everyone who was at our meeting Monday! I didn't have any personal investment in the book as a favorite I was recommending; I hadn't read the book before nominating it! But I did enjoy reading the book, and I was very interested in what ideas would come up at the meeting to enrich my experience of the book. I was not disappointed! The discussion helped me understand some confusing aspects of the book and showed me aspects I hadn't noticed. It did turn out to be a good book for discussion, didn't it?
1) I think the most fun idea that arose at the meeting was that we couldn't be totally sure as to where the author intended the imaginary to begin and the reality to end. I guess the problem arose when we started trying to decide whether Briony had actually seen the wedding of Lola and Marshall or whether they had married at all. Certainly, it would have made sense for them to not really have married and lived together in marital bliss all those years. But then, why not? In some ways, they seemed to deserve each other! I did feel that there is a strong possibility that by rereading this book, any of us might uncover some clues and find that the story was really more defined than we were able to discern at first reading. I think we all agree that none of us really wants to do that. Maybe sometime one of us will reread it; maybe for another book club or maybe just out of curiosity. Please let us know!
I can just imagine college students writing lengthy papers on this book!
2) It seems that those of us who had seen the movie enjoyed it and found it to be a very satisfying rendition of the book. I was surprised, as my guess would be that a book club would like the book much more than the movie. I haven't seen the movie yet; it's on our Netflix queue, so we'll probably be seeing it at home. I don't mind waiting for this movie. It's not as though I'm going to forget the book while waiting for the movie - not after that discussion! And, we have a new TV...(Yes, it's very nice; and no, we can't imagine how we could ever have enjoyed our old TV for 10 years!) The more I think about the movie being so well received by our group, the more I am beginning to think that the author wrote the book with a movie in mind, whether purposely or subconsciously. From what I had read about Ian McEwan, I thought he would be all novelist and not part screenwriter; but maybe that was naive.
3) I thought the book was excellent and enjoyed every bit of it, even though I was confused occasionally. Other opinions ranged from disliking the whole book to having trouble getting into it for the first half of the book and then enjoying the book as a whole because of the momentum it finally gained. One member had read 4 or 5 McEwan books and disliked every one so much that she decided not to read this one. She said that McEwan's choppy sequencing and vague, shall we say illusionary or maybe allusionary, as in his alluding to things but not making them clear, style is just not fun for her. It is interesting to hear an opinion that differs from one's own, especially when it is backed up with reasons that make sense. Some of us said we would definitely like to read another McEwan book and some said definitely not.

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