This is the first McEwan book I can say that I loved. I have a strange kind of... admiration and liking for this author. his use of the English language is beautiful and he manages to draw out well defined characters and environments without being too full of fluff (like Lolita for example.)
I have read Saturday (my first, which I liked) and Enduring Love (which was okay) and The Innocent (which was dissatisfying).
Atonement is the first one of his which I felt actually had an enjoyable story - in fact the only one I have read that has had much of a story at all. The others seemed to be some strange study of a character or a moment in their life.
Atonement had emotion, it had power - it is a beautiful but tragic story based around a terrible lie from a child.
McEwan might not be for everyone, and I don't usually go for books just because of the use of the language, but he is just divine.
You will experience three lives - one life in the 1930's in a house amongst the wealthy upper middle class, one in Dunkirk during the retreat, and one as a nurse in a hospital in London.
Each wonderfully researched and painfully real.
Atonement carried me away and broke my heart. Maybe I'm just a sap, but I loved it.