Wednesday, 4 April 2007

Atonement (Ian McEwan)

I've been reading Atonement by Ian McEwan. It's well-written, it's evocative and provocative, it explores unseen depths — but the plot sickens me. If I wanted to read a book about a child being molested and some innocent guy falsely accused of it, I would... no, I would never want to read a book like that.

It sickens me. I'm about halfway through the book now, and I had to put it down and go away. The worst thing is that I'm reading it for Massey — if I'd started this book for leisure, I would probably "have" to finish it just to find out what happened, but I don't think I'd have read more than the first chapter of it if I wasn't required to.

If I'd read this book coming straight out of high school, I would have been shocked and much more sickened than I am now, even if I hadn't understand all the nuances. Even now, halfway through, it hasn't explicitly been said that this guy was raping this child, or who this guy was; but it's completely clear. It's a well-written book.

It's called Atonement because the child who reports the rape and accuses Mr Innocent has to spend the rest of her life atoning for her mistake, or some such thing. I've probably ruined the plot for anyone who hasn't read the book; but I'd recommend you not to read it anyway, so I'm unrepentant for plot-spoiling.

I think it's false, sort of, that the child should be the one atoning for her mistake made in all innocence and ignorance; it should be the guy who actually does commit the rape, that atones for it. I'm not sure what happens there yet, since as I say, I'm only halfway through it — the rape's only just been committed, and reported.

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