McEwan's first historical novel is set in 1935 with the threat of the approaching war hanging over its characters. The novel is divided into three sections, with a coda set in London in 1999, and triads, triangles and three-way relationships suffuse the narrative. Atonement's (2001) main trio of characters are Briony Tallis, a thirteen year old with literary pretensions, her older sister Cecilia, and Robbie Turner, the son of their family's cleaning lady. Robbie and Cecilia are down from Cambridge, where Robbie has been educated at the expense of the girls' father, a Whitehall civil servant whose rule over but absence from the young people's world of play-acting and romance recalls that of Sir Thomas Bertram in Mansfield …
Childs, Peter. "Atonement". The Literary Encyclopedia. First published 21 March 2002; last revised 30 November -1.
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