I liked this book, but it was a very heavy read and I felt it was very thought provoking. And kind of made me sleepy at times. But the last bit really pulled me in as well. Contradicty much?
Most people have probably seen the movie and have a good idea of what the story is about. Let me tell you folks, it is an even more sad tale on the page than it was on the screen. Naturally, you get more into each of the characters and I think this really brings you to either fall more in love with them, or despise them more than you did before.
I, for one, found myself disliking Briony more as you could see her individual thoughts and almost bold unwillingness to try to understand the situations she found herself in. It was really frustrating for me to see the young 13 year old Briony knowing that she was seeing and witnessing things that were beyond her comprehension, yet is willing to just let her imagination run wild rather than asking the adults in her lives about what was going on. Or better yet, ignoring these things to avoid providing false evidence against Robbie.
Despite her efforts to atone for the mistake she made, I could never get myself to the point where I forgave her. The scenes of Robbie wandering the French countryside, just trying to get to the beach to retreat back to England were too heart wrenching to read for me to say that Briony had done enough.
One thing that still has me confused is wondering why everyone was so ready to believe the tale of a 13 year old girl, rather than asking Cecelia what really happened between the two of them and taking both testimony’s with at least equal bearing. Or listening at all to what Robbie said he had done that night. And I certainly would have been swayed by the fact that it was Robbie who found the missing boys, and that in itself would make me think it unlikely that he’d have attempted a sexual assault in the dark…I feel like these two examples of good and evil wouldn’t really lie in one man. But perhaps this is why I did not write this story.
I felt the book did a better job of explaining where the reality ended and the fantasy began. Maybe I’m a little daft, but I thought the movie was slightly confusing on this point, but I felt like the book made it pretty clear that the truth of Robbie’s situation was what happened in France, and what Briony actually did at the end of her tale.
The writing was very beautiful, and I really understand why people are fans of Ian McEwan’s work. It brought me to tears on numerous occasions, and the yearning for everything to honestly be okay was quite something to handle. The first fifty or so pages were difficult to get through, but once you can get past Briony’s thoughts and everything surrounding her, it’s quite worth your time to read.
Read this book if: You want something heavier to read. This is not a light summer vacation book, in my opinion. I also liked that it was a more personal take on a war story, something I could get behind instead of a more guys point of view of WWII.