Books: Twisted Sister

A delectable novel about a not-so-delightful family

When it comes to the crimes of unbridled ego and bearing false witness, writers are habitual offenders. At the age of 13, Briony Tallis is a born writer. The intricate English girl at the center of Atonement (Nan A. Talese/Doubleday; 351 pages; $26) is a self-regarding child, the kind who keeps a toy farm in her bedroom with all the animals pointing toward her. Eager to superintend the lives of those around her, she believes that through her powers of invention and language, "an unruly world could be made just so." In a complicated way, she turns out to be right,...

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