The story of Atonement by Ian McEwan is deceptively simple, beautifully written and emotionally devastating. Beginning on a hot summer day in 1935, thirteen year old Briony Tallis witnesses the attraction between Robbie Turner, the son of the cleaning lady and her sister Cecelia Tallis, both recently returned from university. When a tragedy occurs, Briony misinterpreting events and harbouring a secret jealousy, tells a lie that will have destructive effects on everyone around her.
The novel continues through the War years, as Robbie is sent to fight in Dunkirk and the novel explores the tragedy of the war on both the soliders and the civilians caught in the fighting. Both Cecelia and Briony become nurses to the wounded casualties, and Briony begins to understand the consequences of her action.
Finally, the novel takes us to 1999 when Briony is now an aging novelist and the truth of the story finally unfolds, reminding us that for some sins atonement is not possible.