“It wasn't only wickedness and scheming that made people unhappy, it was confusion and misunderstanding; above all, it was the failure to grasp the simple truth that other people are as real as you.”
“Atonement” is a unique novel in many ways. As far as unreliable narrators go, the protagonist, Briony Tallis, is definitely one of them. Most of the book is in third person. The final part, however, is in first person as told by Briony. In the last part, Briony reveals that the whole book is actually written by her, therefore everything you read in the book is actually being said by Briony, despite it being in third person. Her confession at the end isn’t all true as its sprinkled with her lies.
For example, Briony, who we now understand to be the writer of the story, tells us what other people are thinking. How can she know their thoughts for sure?
The point of view switches around throughout the story as we sometimes end up in her sister, Emily’s head. As a character, Briony loves to figure out what other people are thinking so it's no surprise she adds this in her narrative.
Is Briony reliable? What do you think of “Atonement?”