Monthly Archives: January 2008

ATONEMENT by Ian McEwan

atonement_movie_poster_onesheet.jpg Random House (Vintage). 372 pages.

I wasn’t particularly eager to grab a copy of this, most especially after having read the very bleugh Enduring Love. But I have to admit, I got into a major go with the big flow mode-when the movie came out and a couple of friends raved about the book.

When I finally had the time to get a copy, I had a good conversation with the cashier about the book. (Ok, well, about James Mc Avoy mostly) In a non-salestalk manner, she guaranteed me that I will surely enjoy it.

And I did. I really did. It took me about 2 weeks (Ian Mc Ewan should not be speed-read at all) but I really relished it. Fine wine, he is. I planned to read it before watching the movie, but my impatience kicked in and watched the movie when I was on the second chapter.

Where exactly do we draw the line between being ‘too young to be responsible’ or ‘old enough to know what’s right or wrong’?   13 year old Briony Tallis has a flair for writing, and is sensible and mature for her age. So when she sees her sister Cecilia and the housekeeper’s son Robbie in a highly unusual and odd scenario, she immediately felt responsible to ‘save the day’. Events that lead throughout that day and the decision that Briony makes change the lives of all characters forever.

Don’t read this book if you’re in for fast pacing and adrenalin. Read it purely for its words and emotions. McEwan is definitely the master of all human thought and emotions. If you think you are the only human being capable of thinking or feeling certain things–think again. Ian McEwan has read and written your thoughts out. And has produced best-selling novels with it.

It was a joy watching the movie and seeing that only a few very minor details are changed. Even the script is almost exact.

And most of all, Keira Knightley is not THAT annoying in the movie. But hardly deserving of any award. Romola Garai, the actress who plays the 18-year old Briony is just spectacular.

Wonderful soundtrack and score as well.

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Keira Knightley and Saoirse Ronan as Cecilia and Briony Tallis

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the brilliant James McAvoy as Robbie Turner

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Briony Tallis at 18. Wonderfully portrayed by Romola Garai.

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behind it all: Ian McEwan

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A Short History of Tractors in Ukranian by Marina Lewycka

n144996.jpg Penguin Books Ltd., 324 pages

Who wouldn’t be drawn by the first paragraph of this book?

“Two years after my mother died, my father fell in love with a glamorous blonde Ukranian divorcee. He was eighty-four and she was thirty-six. She exploded into our lives like a pink grenade, churning up the murky water, bringing to the surface a sludge of sloughed-off memories, giving the family ghosts a kick up the backside.”

Middle aged sisters Nadezhda and Vera suddenly find themselves teaming up (after years of indifference) to get the gold-digging Valentina away from their lonely father.

Although the novel’s plot seems comical, the whole essence of it runs deep. It digs into the heart of being a Ukranian war and refugee camp survivor, and adapting into a new ‘big brother’ country.

After finishing the book, I realize that the controversial foreign-bride-zilla plot is just a superficial mask to a more interesting issue–communism, poverty, and family.

The pacing dragged on a little too much in the middle, but eventually picked up towards the end. Though Nadezhda’s (narrator) lines are funny and witty, I’m not too keen to say this book is one to remember and highly recommend.

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the author was born of Ukranian parents in a refugee camp
in Germany at the end of WWII, and grew up in England.