A beautifully written and cleverly told story of relationships, growing up, guilt and, obviously, atonement and forgiveness. The essence of the story is how a childish mistake, made in good faith (more or less) can have consequences for many people, for many years.
Although it would be better to read this before watching the film, I’d heard that the book had been thought unfilmable and so was pretty different, which ensured I was alert to reading it with fresh eyes.
Part 1 is perhaps not quite as idyllic as in the film, but still presents a sharp contrast to the scenes in wartorn France that follow, where lovable Robbie is only referred to with detachment by his surname. Although powerfully described, I think the war section is a little too long, but it's a small quibble.
What McEwan does so well in this is the way he explains the inner thoughts and conflicts of his different characters, especially Briony, both as a naive and self-centred teenager, and as a selfless and guilt-ridden adult.