OB40mukEXQ6QZ1740xdjwF1LEQ4 Quote to Remember: ATONEMENT [2007]


Wednesday, July 6, 2016


Torn Apart by Betrayal
Separated by War
Bound by Love 

 Briony: Cee, why don't you talk to Robbie anymore?
Cecilia: I do. We just move in different circles, that's all.

Soldier: Come on, then, how come a toff like you, talks French and everything, ends up a private?
Robbie: Not eligible for officer's training if you join direct from prison.
Soldier: You're pulling my tit.
Robbie: No, I'm not.
They gave me a choice. Stay in prison or join the Army.
And for the record, the last thing I am is a toff.

Cecilia: Sorry.
Robbie: No.
Have you been in touch with your family?
Cecilia: No, I told you I wouldn't.
Leon waited outside the hospital last week, I just pushed past him.
Robbie: Cee, you don't owe me anything.
Cecilia: Robbie, didn't you read my letters?
Had I been allowed to visit you, had they let me everyday, I would have been there everyday.
Robbie: Yes, but... 
If all we have rests on a few moments in a library three and a half years ago, then I'm not sure, I don't know if...
Cecilia: Robbie, look at me.
Come back... Come back to me.

Briony: Thank you, thank you, thank you.
Robby: That's an incredibly bloody stupid thing to do.
Briony: I wanted you to save me.
Robbie: Don't you know how easily you could have drowned?
Briony: You saved me.
Robbie: Stupid child! You could have killed us both.
Is that your idea of a joke?
Briony: I want to thank you for saving my life.
I will be eternally grateful to you.

The story can resume.
Our story can resume.
I will simply resume.
~Robbie Turner

Dearest Cecilia.
The story can resume.
The one I had been planning on that evening walk.
I can become again the man who once crossed the Surrey Park at dusk in my best suit,
swaggering on the promise of life.
The man who, with the clarity of passion, made love to you in the library.
The story can resume.
I will return, find you, love you, marry you, and live without shame.
~Robbie Turner

Briony: I've never been in love.
Fiona: What, never? Not even a crush?
Briony: Oh, I had a crush once, when I was 10 or 11.
I jumped into a river to see if he'd save me from drowning.
Fiona: Now you're teasing me.
Briony: Oh, no. And he did save me.
But as soon as I told him I loved him, the feeling sort of disappeared.

Robbie: What is she doing here?
Cecilia: She wanted to speak to me.
Robbie: Oh, yes, what about?
Briony: The terrible thing I did.
Robbie: I'll be quite honest with you.
I'm torn between breaking your neck here and taking you and throwing you down the stairs.
Do you have any idea what it's like in jail?
Of course you don't.
Tell me, did it give you pleasure to think of me inside?
Briony: No.
Robbie: But you did nothing about it.
Briony: No.
Robbie: Do you think I asssaulted your cousin?
Briony: No.
Robbie: Do you think it then?
Briony: Yes. But yes and no.
Robbie: And what's made you so certain now?
Briony: Growing up.
Robbie: Growing up?
Briony: I was 13.
Robbie: How old do you have to be to know the difference between right and wrong?
What are you, 18?
Do you have to be 18 before you can bring yourself to own up to a lie?
There are soldiers of 18, old enough to be left to die by the side of the road, did you know that?
Briony: Yes.
Robbie: 9 years ago, you didn't care about telling the truth.
You, all your family, you just assumed that for all my education, I was still little better than a servant.
Still not to be trusted!
Thanks to you, they were able to close ranks and throw me to the fucking wolves!

I'm very, very sorry for the terrible distress that I have caused.
I am very, very sorry.
~Briony Tallis

I'm dying.
My doctor tells me I have something called vascular dementia, which is essentially a continuous series of tiny strokes.
Your brain closes down, gradually you lose words, you lose your memory,
which for a writer is pretty much the point.
So that's why I could finally write the book, I think, I had to.
And why, of course, it's my last novel.
Strangely enough, it would be just as accurate to call it my first novel.
I wrote several drafts as far back as my time at St. Thomas Hospital during the war.
I just couldn't ever find the way to do it.
I had, for a very long time, decided to tell the absolute truth.
No rhymes, no embellishments.
I got first-hand accounts of all the events I didn't personally witness, 
the conditions in prison, the evacuation to Dunkirk, everything.
But the effect of all this honesty was rather pitiless.
I couldn't any longer imagine what purpose would be served by it.
By honesty... or reality.
Because, in fact, I was too much of a coward to go and see my sister in June, 1940.
I never made that journey to Balham.
So the scene in which I confess to them is imagined. Invented.
And in fact, could never have happened.
Because Robbie Turner died in septicaemia at Bray-Dunes on June the first, 1940, the last day of the evacuation.
And I was never able to put things right with my sister, Cecilia, because she was killed on the 15th of October, 1940, 
by the bomb that destroyed the gas and water mains above Balham tube station.
So, my sister and Robbie were neber able to have the time together they both so longed for, and deserved.
And which, ever since, I've always felt I prevented.
But, what sense of hope or satisfaction, could a reader derive from an ending like that?
So, in the book, I wanted to give Robbie and Cecilia what they lost out in life.
I'd like to think this isn't weakness or evasion, but a final act of kindness.
I gave them their happiness.
~Briony Tallis



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