The Really Popular Book Club: Atonement by Ian McEwan
Tuesday 26 July 2022, 7.00pm to 8.00pm BST
The Really Popular Book Club is the reading group hosted by Cambridge University Libraries. Everyone is invited to join them and their special guests to discuss a really popular book, one that we all know and perhaps or perhaps not love.
This July, The University Library's Book Club will be discussing Atonement by Ian McEwan, his Booker shortlisted historical novel of 2001. At home on a hot August day in 1935, thirteen year-old Bryony Tallis witnesses an encounter between her older sister, Cecilia and close friend of the family Robbie Turner, which she fatally misinterprets with devastating consequences for the lives of all three.
Special guest for the evening will be Professor Helen McCarthy who teaches modern British history at the University of Cambridge. She is also the author of three books, most recently Double Lives: A History of Working Motherhood (Bloomsbury, 2020).
About the book, Helen says: ‘I love McEwan’s writing because he’s such an exquisite stylist and his books are always intellectually stimulating as well as having brilliant characters that you can really connect to. Atonement has all of that plus a historical setting – 1930s and wartime Britain – which is just up my street!’
As well as hearing from Helen about her thoughts and observations on Atonement, we will once again be opening the floor up to you, our club members, to share your own observations and remarks. To get you thinking and to help prepare any comments or questions you might want to share, we have prepared three starter questions:
- How convincingly does McEwan recreate the setting of the 1930s and early years of the war in his writing?
- Is Atonement better described as a love story or as a story about childhood and growing up?
- Has Bryony successfully atoned for her crime by the end of the novel?
Further information about The Really Popular Book Club, including our FAQs, can be found here.