It is 1934, the English summer is blooming and the heat is setting in on the Tallis country house. Within this deceptively docile setting, the Tallises prepare for the return of Leon, the oldest brother.
Both Cecilia and Briony, the younger sisters, have reservations about the evening to come. That their three cousins were staying with the Tallises to escape from a bitter domestic feud, does not matter to Briony. Her mind solely revolving around turning her cousins into puppets of her imagination, she is only able to think about the evening’s performance. Cecelia, however, struggles with emotion, knowing infatuation and confusion over her childhood friend, Robbie Turner – who will be attending the homecoming.
By the end of the long summer day, the Tallises and Turners have become victims of the precocious and destructive imagination of thirteen-year-old Briony – whose life will be defined by her crime and reparation.
Whilst the start of the book is perversely un-gripping, the latter parts of this unique story absorb the reader. Throughout the novel, McEwan orchestrates intricate themes of class, guilt and animosity. Though, at its heart, the novel is about the subjugating power of love.
This novel is an engrossing story of one child’s need to atone her lies. The binding and irrevocable wrongdoing within the novel will inevitably encompass the reader.