Atonement, Week 4

Welcome to the final Online Book Club discussion of Atonement.

How many of you wish the book had ended at before the very last little section entitled "London, 1999?" I think I wish it had. It was very sad to read what happened to Cecilia and Robbie. 

Were you surprised that the whole book was the manuscript that Briony wrote? It makes sense, then, that the first section created such a richer portrait of Briony because she was the person telling the story. Of course she knew more about the inner workings of Briony than she knew about anyone else. Do you think Briony was fair in her retelling, or do you think she put herself in a more positive light than she should have? 

What did you think about the wedding scene between Lola and Paul? Were you surprised that he was her attacker? I really was. And, I was surprised that she ended up marrying him after the whole ordeal. It seemed like, at the end of the book, that she had a comfortable life, but I can't imagine that she really had a lot of happiness. What do you think? Why do you think it was so important for Briony to have Lola see her at the wedding? What was Briony trying to do? 

Do you think Briony treated her nursing as a type of penance for her past actions? It was really sad all of the things that she saw while she was nursing. The man who had lost part of his brain was especially heartbreaking. I don't think I could have been strong enough to be pleasant and helpful for those men. It would be so hard to keep a pleasant face while seeing all of that pain and misery. The description of the man who had been burned was really hard to read, too. It seemed almost a relief when he passed away. I just didn't see how he could recover from that sort of injury. 

Were you surprised when Robbie made an entrance in the scene between Briony and Cecilia? I was shocked to see him. Did you think they all interacted with each other like you thought? Was the meeting friendlier than you expected? I thought it was. I didn't even expect Cecilia and Robbie to talk to Briony. 

How did you process the last section at Briony's birthday party? I thought it was cool that Briony was a famous author, and I loved reading about all of the research she put into her book. But, I was flabbergasted when she revealed the truth about Cecilia and Robbie. What a heartbreaking end. I don't even know how Briony was able to keep going. And, I thought the last part where she said she changed the ending to be more hopeful for her readers a little misleading. Do you think she really did that because readers would be too dishearted by the truth, or did she do it because she wanted to not look quite so bad. I'm not sure if she had pure motives. 

What else stuck out to you in this section? What were your favorite parts? 

Are you curious about the creation of the novel? Check out this article to read how the book came to be and how McEwan decided on the ending. 

If you liked this book and want to read and watch similar titles, check out this list I created. Let me know if you check out anything on the list!

Thanks so much for joining us this month. I hope you enjoyed the book. Make sure to let me know all of your thoughts in the comments! And, be sure to join us again next month as we read The Hunt for Red October by Tom Clancy. I can't wait to hear from you in the comments!