Given to me by my dad on the 1st of May, at Lisbon's book fair 2010.
First of all, let me start by saying I had no idea whatsoever what this book was about. I read countless book jackets, numerous reviews on Goodreads, and I still could not understand what its story was. However, everyone always told me how marvellous and well written it was.
I agree, McEwan’s prose is just brilliant. I read the Portuguese translation, and it still blew my mind away. He manages to make so many different readings from the tiniest things. I will now try to summarize the plot a bit. The whole book, which begins in 1935 and covers 6 decades, revolves around the lives of three people, namely Briony and Cecilia Tallis and Robbie Turner. Briony is a little girl who is an aspiring writer, and Cecilia is her older sister. Robbie is a boy whose mother was the Tallis’ housekeeper, and he became good friends with the family. One day, both Briony and Robbie watch Cecilia step into a fountain in her underwear, an event which will change the characters lives. This is the point where I can’t really explain anything much further, lest I ruin the book for you!
The book is split into 4 parts; the first one, which is a bit more than 200 pages long, covers only an afternoon and evening! I found it completely necessary, because it makes us aware of everyone’s thoughts and feelings. The second is set during World War II in France, and the third is set also during World War II, but in London. The final part is set in London as well, in 1999. Overall, I enjoyed reading this book, I really did, but while some parts were impossible to stop reading, others were just so descriptive and repetitive that I had the idea I had read them before.
I recommend this book to anyone who enjoys romances that aren’t mushy and war tales that don’t spend 4 pages describing how guns were fired.