Atonement, Ian McEwan’s 2001 novel spanning over sixty years, is a work of metafiction, or fiction that alludes to its own artificiality to emphasize and encourage readers to think about the nature of fiction. The novel intertwines a tale of grand romance, the horrors of World War II, and the destruction caused by a young girl’s mistake. Atonement won several literary awards, and it continues to both frustrate and intrigue readers with its unexpected ending. The 2007 film adaptation starring Keira Knightley, James McAvoy, and Saoirse Ronan received an Oscar nomination for Best Picture.


Read the chapter-by-chapter Summary & Analysis, a Full Book Summary, or Full Book Analysis of Atonement.


See a complete Character List for Atonement, as well as in-depth analysis of its most important characters.

Literary Devices

Here's where you'll find analysis of the main themes, motifs, and symbols in Atonement.


Here's where you'll find important quotes from Atonement and explanations of them.


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