As a medical melodrama, this is more of a horsepill than a wonder drug. But Atonement is also a quasi-religious novel, war novel, war crimes novel, Lost Horizon novel, novel of expiation, romance, and a science research novel, to name but a few of its larger concerns. Ashley Morden, a minister's son, gives up his father's nonviolence philosophy and joins the Air Force in World War II and is in on the great Hamburg raids of 1943. However, he cracks up because his girl died in a London bombardment, and gets cashiered out of the service as a coward. His guilt is two-fold: by seducing his girl he indirectly caused her death, and as a bombardier he wantonly killed civilians. Back in Canada, Ashley spends eleven years working his way through medical school and becoming a microbiologist for a research institution. His specialty is a rare plague bacillus he is attempting to turn into a vaccine. When two doctors die of the plague, Ashley is commandeered by the army's bacteriological warfare division to turn out thousands of gallons of germs. A plane he is in crashes off-course in the Far North where, for a month, he is tended by an idyllic girl who lives alone in the wilderness with her per wolf. At novel's end, he gives up microbiology and civilization and, liken Ronald Colman, heads back for Shangri-La. This summary merely suggests the vast scenario.