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.


(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 Park

. As with many of McEwan's previous novels, the plot hinges on a…

930 words

Citation: Childs, Peter. "Atonement". The Literary Encyclopedia. First published 21 March 2002 [, accessed 16 July 2024.]

6461 Atonement 3 Historical context notes are intended to give basic and preliminary information on a topic. In some cases they will be expanded into longer entries as the Literary Encyclopedia evolves.

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