Monday, December 31, 2007

Welcome to Our Reading Cafe Blog

This is the new space where readers and staff can post book recommendations or booklists. We hope many of you will participate by sharing good books you have read or movies you have watched by sending us comments.

The first book I want to recommend is Atonement by Ian McEwan. Part of the reason I want to feature Atonement is because I saw the movie recently, and of course I compared the film with the book. McEwan is a master of the English language, and Atonement is his masterpiece to date. The novel is a love story and a war story. McEwan did extensive research before writing the section of the book describing the evacuation of the British and French soldiers from Dunkirk, and the filmmakers have translated it into a harrowing scene. The movie is true to the book in the pacing and conveys the class divisions in English society of the time that are a major theme of the novel. The friend with whom I saw the movie was struck by how well the movie captures the beauty of McEwan’s language. I wondered how the movie was going to deal with the plot twists that make Atonement a startling and original novel, and I’m pleased to say the filmmakers did a good job with them.

There’s an interesting video interview with McEwan about the filming of his novel on his website , but if you haven’t read the book, be advised that the interview gives away the major plot twist.

Suzanne Fisher


Eileen said...

I had a hard time with Atonement and only made it through a few pages. I read On Chesil Beach and loved it--maybe I should give Atonement another try???

Our Library said...

I agree with Eileen that Atonement is not easy to read. I admit I almost gave up on it the first time I read it. The first section sets the scene, introduces the characters and the conflicts, personal and class-based, that move the plot. That part is necessary to understand what follows, but it is lengthy, and McEwan’s use of detail definitely makes for slow reading.
If you can’t get into the book, I suggest seeing the movie. It’s faithful to the plot, characters and themes of the book, the actors are superb, and you will come away with the same impressions you would get from reading the book.
If you liked On Chesil Beach, you might want to try Saturday, which I loved and found more readable than Atonement. It’s shorter, the plot is less complicated, and it has a contemporary setting.