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On a hot summer day in 1935, thirteen-year-old Briony Tallis witnesses a moment's flirtation between her older sister, Cecilia, and Robbie Turner, the son of a servant and Cecilia's childhood friend. But Briony's incomplete grasp of adult motives -- together with her precocious literary gifts -- forces a situation that will change the course of their lives. As it follows that event's repercussions through the chaos and carnage of World War II and into the close of the twentieth century, Atonement engages the reader on every conceivable level, with an ease and authority that mark it as a genuine masterpiece.
This national bestseller and Booker Prize nominee opens in 1935 in England, where the members of the well-to-do Tallis familytheatrical, 13-year-old Briony; Cecilia, her older, Cambridge-educated sister, and their sensitive, migraine-wracked motherare preparing for the homecoming of son Leon, a successful bank clerk. When Briony observes a flirtation between Cecilia and Cambridge student Robbie Turner, who also happens to be the son of the family's cleaning lady, her writer's imagination gets the best of her, and she later accuses Robbie of a terrible crimea charge that changes his life forever. Shifting perspectives and spanning decades, the novelreminiscent, at times, of the work of Virginia Woolfis a classic portrait of war-torn Europe that examines the writing process, the power of memory and the human capacity to forgive. A reading group guide is available in print and online at www.randomhouse.com/anchor/.