Pictured is a screenshot of Rory reading McEwan’s bestseller in season four, episode three, which I found on the Gilmore Girls wiki. It’s the episode in which Emily redecorates Rory’s Yale dorm room (without consulting her, as Emily does) and we first meet Digger. I have such a fondness for poor Digger!
I do not, however, feel fondly toward Atonement. Don’t get me wrong. It’s a brilliantly crafted and written novel. While reading it, I was in absolute awe of the construction and quality of the prose. But when I got to the end of it, I felt probably the most depressed I’ve ever felt in my life.
I remember standing on my back patio looking onto the rain-soaked yard beyond (yes, it really was raining the day I finished it – so apropos!) and thinking, “This novel should come with a warning for the clinically depressed.” I may have called a dear friend and babbled incoherently, begging to know how – WHY?! – was I, who believes in the importance of hope above all else, not warned about this book. The immediate aftermath of reading it is a little fuzzy in my memory. Also, my hands are trembling just thinking about it.
In case I haven’t been absolutely crystal clear, Atonement crushed my soul, then ground it up into little pieces, then put them in a blender, then frapped them. Then spit on them. Then chucked the soggy bits into a cursed fire to be consumed. I had to start a new book immediately upon finishing Atonement so as to exorcise the demons the novel left in place of my soul. And also to grow a new soul. Good times!
So it occurs to me I haven’t told you anything about the book itself. Obviously, I can’t tell you what made it so soul-destroying because that would be a major spoiler. Obviously. It begins in 1935, when a little girl sees something she shouldn’t have and misunderstands it. The rest of the novel follows the repercussions of that moment on all involved.
I don’t know. Maybe I’m taking it too hard? Have you read it? What did you think?