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Listening to the Silence

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Karen Maitland
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Atonement

Atonement - Ian McEwan The hot English summer of 1935 shimmered with the potential for tragedy. There were rumblings of another war with Germany, a war that would eventually bring devestation to England. Yet there was another, deeper tragedy that affected the sprawling country home of the Tallis family. Young Briony is an imaginative girl, with a flair for writing. She witnesses from her window and shared moment between her sister and her father's protege, the son of their char lady. With her adolescent mind, she is unable to fully understand what it is that she observes and begins to twist it into something more sinister. Later that day, she bears witness to events that are even further outside her comprehension, and when an unspeakable crime is perpetrated, she lays the guilt at the feet of the young man. These accussations of a confused girl will destroy her family and leave her spending the rest of her life trying to set right in the only way that she able.

Rather than read the print, I listened to an audio production of this brilliant novel, as read by Jill Tanner. I found it nearly impossible to put down, always wanting to know what would happen next, what would happen of the young lovers, how Briony would attempt in her manner to set things right. At the novel's close I was not entirely surprised, yet it wasn't exactly expected either. Until the conclusion I would have called this a 4 star novel, but the final section of the novel was perfectly done. I am relieved that I have not yet seen the movie to ruin it for me.

This was my first McEwan novel, and I found it to be beautifully done. The flow of the words and the narrative were exceptional, and I was able to clearly picture the story as it unfolded. The reader, while not exceptional, did a fine job and I wouldn't object to listening to another novel she has recorded.