Fiction Film

Atonement (2001) by Ian McEwan

''At first, when she pushed open the door and stepped in, she saw nothing at all. The only light was from a single green-glass desk lamp which illuminated little more than the tooled leather surface on which it stood. When she took another few steps she saw them, dark shapes in the furthest corner. "

cg fewstonAtonement by Ian McEwan

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

cg fewston
Ian McEwan, British author (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Atonement (2001) by Ian McEwan is by far the best book I’ve read in 2013. There’s a fluid ease to the language and to the events that unfold in the first half of the book that it is so unlike any book I have ever encountered. Gabriel García Márquez and a few of his books might come close.

In the first 175 pages of the book, McEwan transports the reader into the remarkable events of one single summer’s day in 1935 that might otherwise be ordinary but by section’s end turn horrifically and extraordinarily into a life-shaping event, as if Shakespeare’s pen graced the edges of the story.

Here are what three reviewers said about Atonement, and I certainly agree with their assessments.

”Resplendent… Graceful… Magisterial… Gloriously realized.” – The Boston Globe

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”A work of astonishing depth and humanity…It is rare for a critic to feel justified in using the word ‘masterpiece,’ but [Atonement] really deserves to be called one.” – The Economist

”In the seriousness of its intentions and the dazzle of its language, Atonement made me starry-eyed all over again on behalf of literature’s humanizing possibilities.” – Daphne Merkin, Los Angeles Times

Sadly, there aren’t enough books being published in today’s market like this one.

cg fewston
Ian McEwan, British Novelist (born 1948)

As for Atonement, let’s take a look into Part I of the 351-page novel.

Briony Tallis, Cecilia Tallis, and Robbie Turner are the three primary characters that McEwan closely follows through the events of the day, from morning to the next morning. Briony, a snobbish girl of thirteen, is shocked to discover the adult world in its sexual explicitness when she witnesses Robbie, a hired hand, and her sister, Cee, by the fountain and later that evening in the library.

cg fewston

Briony is conflicted as she begins to see a larger, less childish world than her own past.

”If the answer was yes, then the world, the social world, was unbearably complicated, with two billion voices, and everyone’s thoughts striving in equal importance and everyone’s claim on life as intense, and everyone thinking they were unique, when no one was. One could drown in irrelevance” (p 34).

A little later, Briony admits to herself, in a clear movement of foreshadowing her future mistake and regret:

”Briony had her first, weak intimation that for her now it could no longer be fairy-tale castles and princesses, but the strangeness of the here and now, of what passed between people, the ordinary people that she knew, and what power one could have over the other, and how easy it was to get everything wrong, completely wrong” (p 37).

{To be honest, I know a few people just like Briony who seem to get ”everything wrong, completely wrong”. But let’s leave these ‘judgers’ be. These people have their own walls and demons to overcome.}

cg fewston

Briony sees her older sister strip and dive into the fountain for some unexplained reason. Briony believes she has just seen Robbie force Cee to shamefully reveal her body. In the library, Briony walks in on Robbie and Cee who are engaged in the throes of passion and sexual bliss. Again, Briony believes Robbie is a lunatic, a sexual deviant that seeks to debase her sister. Here is the beginning to that scene through Briony’s eyes:

cg fewston

”At first, when she pushed open the door and stepped in, she saw nothing at all. The only light was from a single green-glass desk lamp which illuminated little more than the tooled leather surface on which it stood. When she took another few steps she saw them, dark shapes in the furthest corner. Though they were immobile, her immediate understanding was that she had interrupted an attack, a hand-to-hand fight. The scene was so entirely a realization of her worst fears that she sensed that her overanxious imagination had projected the figures onto the packed spines of books. This illusion, or hope of one, was dispelled as her eyes adjusted to the gloom. No one moved. Briony stared past Robbie’s shoulder into the terrified eyes of her sister” (p 116).

What is wonderful with this kind of story is that McEwan provides the backdrop to Robbie and Cee’s encounters and the reader is able to witness the grand design unfolding between the lovers who, after years of stepping around the truth to their feelings, are finally united. And McEwan is able to re-envision those three words that have long been written and spoken by people for ages and will for ages to come: I love you. Here is what McEwan writes:

”Finally he spoke the three simple words that no amount of bad art or bad faith can ever quite cheapen. She repeated them, with exactly the same slight emphasis on the second word, as though she had been the one to say them first” (p 129).

cg fewston

True amour, no? I’ve always loved a good love story, and for many pages one thinks this will unfold into a fine epic. But McEwan and Briony have other plans for these lovers.

There is the misperceptions of Briony that looms large over this small cast of characters.

McEwan is also a visionary in his methods to reveal detail and thoughts. Take these following passages:

cg fewston

”[Cecilia’s] breathing slowed and her desire for a cigarette deepened, but still she hesitated by the door, momentarily held by the perfection of the scene–by the three faded Chesterfields grouped around the almost new Gothic fireplace in which stood a display of wintry sedge, by the unplayed, untuned harpsichord and the unused rosewood music stands, by the heavy velvet curtains, loosely restrained by an orange and blue tasseled rope, framing a partial view of cloudless sky and the yellow and gray mottled terrace where chamomile and and feverfew grew between the paving cracks” (p 19).

cg fewston

Here is Robbie, and a bit of his foreshadowing doom that awaits him later that night:

”What deep readings his modified sensibility might make of human suffering, of the self-destructive folly or sheer bad luck that drive men toward ill health! Birth, death, and frailty in between…he would press the enfeebled pulse, hear the expiring breath, feel the fevered hand begin to cool and reflect, in the manner that only literature and religion teach, on the puniness and nobility of mankind…” (p 87).

cg fewston

That night, Robbie is arrested for raping Lola, Briony’s fifteen-year-old cousin. Briony is the chief witness and despite only seeing a shadow of a man she accuses Robbie. And one can still hear Robbie’s mother, Grace Turner, yelling as the police car drives off, ”Liars! Liars! Liars!” (p 174-175).

cg fewston

That ends Part I, and I recommend that you pick up the book and read Parts II and III to find out what happens. There is also a recent film by the same name but I recommend the book over the film. Atonement, the novel, is an achievement in literature and an outstanding story. A strong recommend.

cg fewston

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cg fewston


cg fewston

The American novelist CG FEWSTON has been a Visiting Scholar at the American Academy in Rome (Italy), a Visiting Fellow at Hong Kong’s CityU, & he’s a been member of the Hemingway Society, Americans for the Arts, PEN America, Club Med, & the Royal Society of Literature. He’s also a been Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts, Manufactures and Commerce (RSA) based in London. He’s the author of several short stories and novels. His works include A Fathers Son (2005), The New America: A Collection (2007), The Mystics Smile ~ A Play in 3 Acts (2007), Vanity of Vanities (2011), A Time to Love in Tehran (2015), Little Hometown, America (2020); A Time to Forget in East Berlin (2022), and Conquergood & the Center of the Intelligible Mystery of Being (2023).

cg fewston

He has a B.A. in English, an M.Ed. in Higher Education Leadership (honors), an M.A. in Literature (honors), and an M.F.A. in Creative Writing & Fiction. He was born in Texas in 1979.

cg fewston
cg fewston

Conquergood & the Center of the Intelligible Mystery of Being is a captivating new dystopian science fiction novel by CG Fewston, an author already making a name for himself with his thought-provoking work. Set in the year 2183, Conquergood is set in a world where one company, Korporation, reigns supreme and has obtained world peace, through oppression... The world-building in the novel is remarkable. Fewston has created a believable and authentic post-apocalyptic society with technological wonders and thought-provoking societal issues. The relevance of the themes to the state of the world today adds an extra wrinkle and makes the story even more compelling.”

cg fewston
cg fewston

“A spellbinding tale of love and espionage set under the looming shadow of the Berlin Wall in 1975… A mesmerising read full of charged eroticism.”

Ian Skewis, Associate Editor for Bloodhound Books, & author of best-selling novel A Murder of Crows (2017)  

“An engrossing story of clandestine espionage… a testament to the lifestyle encountered in East Berlin at the height of the Cold War.”

“There is no better way for readers interested in Germany’s history and the dilemma and cultures of the two Berlins to absorb this information than in a novel such as this, which captures the microcosm of two individuals’ love, relationship, and options and expands them against the blossoming dilemmas of a nation divided.”

~ D. Donovan, Senior Reviewer, Midwest Book Review

A Time to Forget in East Berlin is a dream-like interlude of love and passion in the paranoid and violent life of a Cold War spy. The meticulous research is evident on every page, and Fewston’s elegant prose, reminiscent of novels from a bygone era, enhances the sensation that this is a book firmly rooted in another time.”

~ Matthew Harffy, prolific writer & best-selling historical fiction author of the “Bernicia Chronicles” series

“Vivid, nuanced, and poetic…” “Fewston avoids familiar plot elements of espionage fiction, and he is excellent when it comes to emotional precision and form while crafting his varied cast of characters.” “There’s a lot to absorb in this book of hefty psychological and philosophical observations and insights, but the reader who stays committed will be greatly rewarded.”

cg fewston

GOLD Winner in the 2020 Human Relations Indie Book Awards for Contemporary Realistic Fiction

FINALIST in the SOUTHWEST REGIONAL FICTION category of the 14th Annual National Indie Excellence 2020 Awards (NIEA)

“Readers of The Catcher in the Rye and similar stories will relish the astute, critical inspection of life that makes Little Hometown, America a compelling snapshot of contemporary American life and culture.”

“Fewston employs a literary device called a ‘frame narrative’ which may be less familiar to some, but allows for a picture-in-picture result (to use a photographic term). Snapshots of stories appear as parts of other stories, with the introductory story serving as a backdrop for a series of shorter stories that lead readers into each, dovetailing and connecting in intricate ways.”

~ D. Donovan, Senior Reviewer, Midwest Book Review

“The American novelist CG FEWSTON tells a satisfying tale, bolstered by psychology and far-ranging philosophy, calling upon Joseph Campbell, J. D. Salinger, the King James Bible, and Othello.”

“In this way, the author lends intellectual heft to a family story, exploring the ‘purity’ of art, the ‘corrupting’ influences of publishing, the solitary artist, and the messy interconnectedness of human relationships.”

“Fewston’s lyrical, nostalgia-steeped story is told from the perspective of a 40-year-old man gazing back on events from his 1980s Texas childhood…. the narrator movingly conveys and interprets the greater meanings behind childhood memories.”

“The novel’s focus on formative childhood moments is familiar… the narrator’s lived experiences come across as wholly personal, deeply felt, and visceral.”

cg fewston
cg fewston

American Novelist CG FEWSTON


cg fewston

This is my good friend, Nicolasa (Nico) Murillo, CRC, who is a professional chef & a wellness mentor. I’ve known her since childhood & I’m honored to share her story with you. In life, we all have ups & downs, some far more extreme than others. Much like in Canada, in America, the legalization of marijuana has become a national movement, which includes safe & legal access to cannabis (marijuana) for therapeutic use & research for all.

“This is a wellness movement,” Nico explains. The wellness movement is focused on three specific areas: information, encouragement, & accountability.

In these stressful & unprecedented times, it makes good sense to promote & encourage the state or condition of being in good physical & mental health.

To learn more you can visit: Americans For Safe Access & Texans for Safe Access, ASA (if you are in Texas).

The mission of Americans for Safe Access (ASA) is to ensure safe and legal access to cannabis (marijuana) for therapeutic use and research.


TEXANS FOR SAFE ACCESS ~ share the mission of their national organization, Americans for Safe Access (ASA), which is to ensure safe and legal access to cannabis (marijuana) for therapeutic use and research, for all Texans.


Stay safe & stay happy. God bless.


Nico Murillo Bio ~ Americans & Texans for Safe Access ~ Medical Cannabis



cg fewston

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