This book devastated me, and the devastation crept up on me and struck me unawares. I had a sense of the story when I began, but I was unprepared for how hard Cecilia and Robbie's fates hit me. I was in awe of McEwan's storytelling and his ability to put together a plot, with all its twists and turns. I thought there was something about the tone that I didn't like, and then I discovered why the book had the tone it did, and again, I was in awe. I have thought about this book a great deal since I read it. I still wonder how Briony lived with herself. Most certainly essential reading.