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On Chesil Beach: Library Edition

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Ian McEwan's emotionally charged novel follows an inexperienced young couple through their disastrous wedding night at a Dorset hotel in 1962. Very much in love, Edward and Florence are predictably nervous, but for different reasons. He longs to consummate the marriage; she is repelled by the very idea. Locked in their inhibitions and utterly unable to discuss their fears Ian McEwan's emotionally charged novel follows an inexperienced young couple through their disastrous wedding night at a Dorset hotel in 1962. Very much in love, Edward and Florence are predictably nervous, but for different reasons. He longs to consummate the marriage; she is repelled by the very idea. Locked in their inhibitions and utterly unable to discuss their fears and needs, they are victims not only of personal experience but of a distinctively British brand of repression destined to crumble in the sexual revolution. One of McEwan's greatest skills is his ability to limn the precise, irrevocable moment in which life changes forever. And although that moment is telegraphed within the first few pages of this rueful tale, it loses none of its tragic, devastating force when it occurs. Brief and elegiac, On Chesil Beach spotlights the talents of a literary grand master at the top of his game.


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Ian McEwan's emotionally charged novel follows an inexperienced young couple through their disastrous wedding night at a Dorset hotel in 1962. Very much in love, Edward and Florence are predictably nervous, but for different reasons. He longs to consummate the marriage; she is repelled by the very idea. Locked in their inhibitions and utterly unable to discuss their fears Ian McEwan's emotionally charged novel follows an inexperienced young couple through their disastrous wedding night at a Dorset hotel in 1962. Very much in love, Edward and Florence are predictably nervous, but for different reasons. He longs to consummate the marriage; she is repelled by the very idea. Locked in their inhibitions and utterly unable to discuss their fears and needs, they are victims not only of personal experience but of a distinctively British brand of repression destined to crumble in the sexual revolution. One of McEwan's greatest skills is his ability to limn the precise, irrevocable moment in which life changes forever. And although that moment is telegraphed within the first few pages of this rueful tale, it loses none of its tragic, devastating force when it occurs. Brief and elegiac, On Chesil Beach spotlights the talents of a literary grand master at the top of his game.

45 review for On Chesil Beach: Library Edition

  1. 4 out of 5

    brian

    i read this book in one sitting, on a plane from l.a. to nyc, and it just knocked my socks off. and i came up with a scenerio: imagine if i was flying cross country for some kind of mcewanesque purpose … suppose last time i had been in new york I had met a girl, had spent only a few hours with her, but came back changed. i walked around los angeles buzzed, different, everything slightly altered, colored with that feeling… alright, yeah, it sounds stupid, but go with me (and mcewan) on this. what i read this book in one sitting, on a plane from l.a. to nyc, and it just knocked my socks off. and i came up with a scenerio: imagine if i was flying cross country for some kind of mcewanesque purpose … suppose last time i had been in new york I had met a girl, had spent only a few hours with her, but came back changed. i walked around los angeles buzzed, different, everything slightly altered, colored with that feeling… alright, yeah, it sounds stupid, but go with me (and mcewan) on this. what if i just couldn’t get her outta my head. i mean what if this girl was just perfect, like so ridiculously smart and funny and beautiful and just had that ineffable 'thing' that only very very few people that you ever meet in your life have... i mean, what if, prick atheist that i am, i just knew that this was something important? does one behave cautiously and cower before the impossibility and impracticality of a geographically-challenged love affair? does one cower before doubt and fear and insecurity and the unknown and the possiblity of failure? or does one shove all that useless stuff aside and burst forward, chest out and fists clenched, and grab one’s fate by the throat rather than be content as ‘attendant lord’? well… this is the stuff of mcewan’s fiction. he’s obsessed with that one moment and all the various possibilites which extend outward into time and space --- whether it be a shared glance while hanging from the dangling ropes of a quickly ascending hot air balloon or the reaction to a disastrous night of naïve lovemaking or being attacked by two canine rapists (seriously) or, as in my case, a magical but unrealistic night spent knocking around lower east side bars… and one can’t help but wonder, in reading his books, if one were put in the place of one of mcewan’s protagonists, how he/she would react… as per my 'imaginary' scenerio: would one go for it? or would it be smarter to think with the mind over the heart (you want what you can’t have, grass is always greener, love is a biological imperative necessary for survival of the species), to consider the negatives (3000 miles is a lot of space between), to be practical (plenty of girls in los angeles)… would i go for it? would i jump on a plane for her? would i risk looking like a crazy person? would i risk rejection and heartbreak? would it be the smart (fuck smart) move to get involved with someone i would rarely see in person? would i throw caution (fuck caution) to the wind and make some kind of grand gesture to a girl i’ve only actually seen in the flesh about 4 days in my life? would i blow off the world and take her down to, say, south america for a week? or perhaps i would -- as so many of mcewan’s tragic protagonists do -- take the reasonable route and allow fate to determine my course? hmmm….

  2. 4 out of 5

    Jim Fonseca

    We know the story in advance from the book jacket: a disastrous wedding night. Both are virgins. Young people will find that hard to believe these days, but this is set in the 1960’s. As the author tells us, “the pill was only a rumor.” They had no opportunity for intimacy while dating. While in school in London he lived in a room in the house of a strict aunt. She lived in a women’s rooming house with a dorm mother keeping watch and no men allowed. We learn about their families and upbringing; h We know the story in advance from the book jacket: a disastrous wedding night. Both are virgins. Young people will find that hard to believe these days, but this is set in the 1960’s. As the author tells us, “the pill was only a rumor.” They had no opportunity for intimacy while dating. While in school in London he lived in a room in the house of a strict aunt. She lived in a women’s rooming house with a dorm mother keeping watch and no men allowed. We learn about their families and upbringing; how they met and how they dated. Both are intellectuals. He’s studying to be a professor of history; her life is music and playing the violin. They are more or less in love and they are getting married because it’s what you do. “This was still the era…when to be young was a social encumbrance, a mark of irrelevance, a faintly embarrassing condition for which marriage was the beginning of a cure.” The woman suspects there is something wrong with her – she knew nothing about sex, just what she read in a how-to guide. She was terrified and repelled by all the talk of fluids and penetration. He’s anxious and fumbling. He mistakes her moans of disgust for signs of pleasure. It was a good story and it kept my attention, but I found the book a bit dragged out. Maybe it should have been a short story. This is my sixth McEwan (Enduring Love, Nutshell, Amsterdam, Saturday and Atonement) and only the last I rated a five. Photo of Chesil Beach from Southampton.ac.uk

  3. 5 out of 5

    Sarah

    The first thing you should know about this book is that, like the other Ian McEwan books I’ve read, it is about the most uncomfortable, awkward, and squirmy thing you’ll ever read. Don’t believe me? What if I told you that the book – which is 200 pages long – only covers about two hours of time: the first two hours of a newlywed couple’s honeymoon in which they fumble to consummate their marriage? And that both of them have very embarrassing sexual dysfunctions? Well, that’s what the book is abo The first thing you should know about this book is that, like the other Ian McEwan books I’ve read, it is about the most uncomfortable, awkward, and squirmy thing you’ll ever read. Don’t believe me? What if I told you that the book – which is 200 pages long – only covers about two hours of time: the first two hours of a newlywed couple’s honeymoon in which they fumble to consummate their marriage? And that both of them have very embarrassing sexual dysfunctions? Well, that’s what the book is about. The reader looks on helplessly and squirmingly as two virgins, Edward and Florence, sit in a hotel room on the beach embarrassed out of their minds. It’s 1962, on the cusp of the sexual revolution, and the pair have neither the presence of mind or even the vocabulary to communicate openly with each other. There is only a handful of words spoken until the very last chapter of the book (it was tough for me not to use the word climax here, but I try to stay classy). For the first 50 pages or so I was convinced that McEwan was just selling a freak show to us (again) – that he’s a popular author because people like reading about sex and other people’s weirdo sex problems. Who needs a plot or well-executed sentences when we could have incest, brain damage, erectile dysfunction, and a 30,000 word sex scene? Bring on other peoples’ guilt and shame! But I kept reading and I’m glad I did. Through a number of seamless flashbacks, the history of the couple unfolded before me – so slowly and steadily and adeptly that I am now convinced that Ian McEwan is a genius. A dirty old man genius. It made me think back to a few years ago when Ben and I were lucky enough to interview Jim Shepard, Ben’s favorite contemporary writer and a visiting author at the University of Montana (visiting because Ben requested him, no less). We sat in the Union Club sipping straight whiskeys and Jim Shepard told us that the truly great books (he was specifically talking about Marilynne Robinson’s Housekeeping) are books that are constantly revelatory. And that’s exactly what I though about On Chesil Beach. Everyone – we’re talking about the characters and me – were learning and understanding more and more deeply with each page. It felt like a blossoming or, to be less lame and corny, like a picture very slowly coming into focus. Many times when authors reveal information it seems cheap or as if they were withholding it from you in order to keep you reading – dime mystery book stuff. But McEwan’s real gift is in the natural and subtle ways that he presents information to the reader. In fact, many of the biggest revelations in the book are never said outright, but only seep into the story until you understand each one as truth. It’s really pretty well done. So – if you can handle cringing non-stop for three or four hours and have a strong stomach, you should pick up this book. And let me know if you can figure out exactly how McEwan does what he does, because I’d like to know about it.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Will Byrnes

    This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. Love lost through an inability to speak truth. It is 1962. Edward and Florence have gone to a lovely seaside hotel on their wedding night, totally unprepared for the actual mechanics of sex. Both are virgins. Both have little knowledge of what can or should be done and the result is not a happy one. Still, the issue here is not about the mores of the 50’s, I believe. Is it really possible for two 20-somethings to be so ignorant, even in 1962? I suppose it is possible. But this is a novel about co Love lost through an inability to speak truth. It is 1962. Edward and Florence have gone to a lovely seaside hotel on their wedding night, totally unprepared for the actual mechanics of sex. Both are virgins. Both have little knowledge of what can or should be done and the result is not a happy one. Still, the issue here is not about the mores of the 50’s, I believe. Is it really possible for two 20-somethings to be so ignorant, even in 1962? I suppose it is possible. But this is a novel about communication and trust more than about the uptight mores of a bygone time. Ian McEwan - from his website We are shown the history of their relationship via flashback. Florence came from a home bereft of physical contact. There is one scene in which it is intimated, although not conclusively, that her father may have been guilty of a crime against her youth. No wonder she is frightened. Physicality to her is a source of shame. And once given (as when she was cuddled by one of her nannies as a child) the pleasure is soon yanked away. (The nanny was let go) But the crime here is that Edward and Florence are unable to talk with each other about their problem. Had they exercised the power of speech they might have found a way out of their marital jungle. We are shown what the future holds for them. And maybe in that is a message about disparate times. Maybe, even with all the angst of changes over the last 50 years, we are in a better position to address our issues in the 21st century, even despite the divorce rate. Two other McEwans I have had a go at, Atonement and Saturday

  5. 5 out of 5

    Cecily

    This deceptively light novella describes the events of Florence and Edward’s disastrous honeymoon night in 1962, interspersed with details of their childhoods and courtship to suggest how those influenced what happened. (Update re film at the bottom...) It is clinical and understated from the start: “The wedding... had gone well” and the “weather... not perfect but entirely adequate” and continues in the bedroom with detailed descriptions of physical sensations of skin, muscle, and even individua This deceptively light novella describes the events of Florence and Edward’s disastrous honeymoon night in 1962, interspersed with details of their childhoods and courtship to suggest how those influenced what happened. (Update re film at the bottom...) It is clinical and understated from the start: “The wedding... had gone well” and the “weather... not perfect but entirely adequate” and continues in the bedroom with detailed descriptions of physical sensations of skin, muscle, and even individual hairs: “stroking... for more than one and a half minutes” (too precise). Florence is “incapable of rudeness”, Edward “polite to a fault” and both are virgins and unable to discuss intimate things (“There were no words to name what had happened, there existed no shared language.”), leading to misunderstandings, lost opportunities and unexpected consequences. Edward is guided by duty. Florence is guided by guilt (though not being religious, she can’t get absolution) and has a “visceral dread” of sex, realising that “sex with Edward could not be the summation of her joy, but was the price she must pay for it”. Photo: On Chesil Beach, April 2016: sea in front (barely visible), lagoon behind. Destiny A major theme is destiny, which is perhaps the converse of missed opportunities. “They regarded themselves as too sophisticated to believe in destiny”, yet it was a belief in destiny that prompted Florence to form her quartet, and Florence and Edward inferred the hand of destiny in the extreme improbability of their meeting, plus Edward wants to study and write about how powerful individuals can change destiny. Contrasts They are very different: Florence is a classical musician from a privileged academic city background, lacking in confidence - except where music is concerned. Edward is quiet but (in the past) occasionally explosive, a history graduate from a rural “squalid family home” with a brain damaged mother. Both are used to leaving things unsaid: Florence is “adept at concealing her feelings from her family” and “lived in isolation within herself”, while Edward grew up in a family that colluded in his mother’s fantasy of a well-run household by not talking about it. He secretly chose a London university instead of nearby Oxford as part of “his sense of a concealed life”. Music is often important in McEwan's works. Florence and Edward's musical tastes are fundamentally incompatible (though they try), yet for Florence music is her “path to pleasure”, rather than physical intimacy. Although Edward’s family home was chaotic and somewhat repressed, it was loving. He enjoys the “exotic opulence” of Florence’s home, and although not a social climber, “his desire for Florence was inseparable from the setting”. Florence was raised by nannies, and her mother is uninterested in her, tone deaf and “had barely ever touched her daughter”. Her relationship with her father is more subtle, but perhaps more troubling. Sometimes she found him “physically repellent” and sometimes she’d hug and kiss him, and loather herself for it. She even jokes about marrying him. Although “he never touched her... in Edward’s sight”, they were “intensely aware of each other” (he did hug her sister), and took overnight trips alone together, even sharing a room on the boat. At times, Florence feels more like the parent or child of Edward, rather than his girlfriend or wife. Ebb and Flow There is plenty of see-sawing in the book: the ebb and flow of the sea on the stones of Chesil Beach; of desire; of who to blame for what goes wrong (both in the minds of the characters and the readers); and Florence’s feelings about her father, and whether or not she thinks there is something wrong with Edward or herself. Nowadays The story, and especially the ending, would be implausible nowadays, but fits the characters and the period. My parents married at almost exactly the same ages, in almost the same year, and I can see many similarities in aspects of my mother's upbringing and attitudes and Florence's. I'm unsure whether she'd see that (or want to). The fact that Edward “fell away from history to live snugly in the present” seems entirely appropriate. It is a raw and painful book in places, all the more ironic given that it is set in the allegedly “swinging 60s”. There is additional irony in the fact that Florence takes Edward’s cherry – but only at dinner (an image oddly missing from the film). Complimentary Novels Two were written in the 60s, about the 60s, and feature a woman struggling with sexual intimacy, against the zeitgeist of the swinging 60s: Margaret Drabble’s The Millstone (see my review HERE). Lynne Reid Banks' The L Shaped Room (see my review HERE). One of my two favourite books was written in the 60s, describing the life (and awful marriage) of a man born at the turn of the century, John Williams' exquisite Stoner (see my review HERE). Also, Julian Barnes' 1986 novel, Staring at the Sun (see my review HERE), has similarly poignant anxiety about sex, though it takes a more humorous angle. UPDATE re Film of 2018 The film was brilliant, beautiful, and mostly true to the spirit of my memory of the book (eight years earlier) - with one HUGE caveat. The significant difference is that there was more afterstory than I remember. That didn't feel necessary, and in particular, the fact that in the film, Florence went on to (view spoiler)[have three children, starting very soon after the annulment of her marriage to Edward, totally changes the causes and consequences of what went wrong on their wedding night (hide spoiler)] . Florence's relationship with her father was still subtle (so much so, my husband, who hasn't read the book, was oblivious to its likely significance). It stars the luminously vulnerable and always watchable Saoirse Ronan, who first rose to prominence in another McEwan adaptation, Atonement. The rest of the cast are good, too. See On Chesil Beach on imdb. The dramatic views of Chesil Beach are perfect, avoiding the cliché of extreme weather, but having a vaguely brooding heaviness. You hear the crunch of the pebbles, underfoot, and as waves wash up and percolate down. The lagoon behind is still and silent. Florence and Edward are the only people in sight. McEwan wrote the screenplay, so it's not surprising it's faithful. It certainly brought home the message that their wedding night conversations should have happened long before they married. Go see it - but don't stay for the end!

  6. 4 out of 5

    Jibran

    Having read my first McEwan, I think I can begin to understand why so many good friends feel conflicted about him, even though almost all my friends have recorded positive reviews for this particular novel - the reason I chose this one over others. On Chesil Beach is hilariously funny, boldly intimate, and admirably candid when it describes the internal turmoil of its characters and their struggles to interpret their own truths, but taken whole I think the novel is just so so: the story, the basi Having read my first McEwan, I think I can begin to understand why so many good friends feel conflicted about him, even though almost all my friends have recorded positive reviews for this particular novel - the reason I chose this one over others. On Chesil Beach is hilariously funny, boldly intimate, and admirably candid when it describes the internal turmoil of its characters and their struggles to interpret their own truths, but taken whole I think the novel is just so so: the story, the basic premise that holds it, is very contrived and a whole lot of fillers in the shape of flashbacks have been thrown in to make it big enough to be a novel. 1962. Newly married couple. Wedding Night. Virgins. Afraid of sexual failure = our storyline. Much can be said about Florence's total lack of interest in sex, her fear of intimacy, her disgust at being touched. Okay, we know she was a 'product of her time' - a time just before the cultural change that revolutionized romance and sex in the West; - we know social conditioning had led her to view sex as dirty and corrupting, and we know there had not existed an acceptable common language to discuss those matters; and we know that she was kind of introvert with a singular aim of making it big in the world of classical music. Some of those possibilities are explored briefly, some only alluded to, but none of those make her problem convincing I hoped in vain to learn something startling at the end, something Zweig-like. But there was nothing. Was she frigid or asexual, a claim Edward, her one-night husband, hurls at her as an accusation? Was there some other psychological reason from her past that changed her attitude towards copulation? Perhaps. She says at one point, Perhaps what I really need to to d0 is kill my mother and marry my father. - she did not seem to have an emotional attachment with either of her parent, not in the normal sense. Or was she a 'queer' and did not know about her own sexuality? I admit this last one felt like the most plausible reason. But perhaps none of it matters to the story. It is not about sex but the failure of romance, about lack of faith in one's own abilities, about missed opportunities, about the passing of time, about doing nothing. How an entire course of a life can be changed--by doing nothing. The novel works as a basic portrait of the 1960s England with focus on London, Oxford and its vicinity, its cultural and political scene, and two young people from different classes growing up apart and coming together in an uneven relationship that ends in a horrible crash on the Chesil Beach. And that was that. Also, it gets rather treacly in the end, to make us feel sorry for the couple, enlarging on their romance post-breakup, summing up their whole lives after going separate ways in two or three pages that should not have been inflicted on the reader. December '16

  7. 5 out of 5

    Jason Pettus

    This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. (The much longer full review can be found at the Chicago Center for Literature and Photography [cclapcenter.com].) Regular readers know that this month CCLaP is taking an extended look at the nominees for the 2007 Booker Prize; and regular readers also know that so far I've been mostly disappointed by the nominees I've read, finding most of them to be inconsequential little wisps of stories, many of them well-written but certainly not weighty enough to be called "The Best Novel of 2007." And thus (The much longer full review can be found at the Chicago Center for Literature and Photography [cclapcenter.com].) Regular readers know that this month CCLaP is taking an extended look at the nominees for the 2007 Booker Prize; and regular readers also know that so far I've been mostly disappointed by the nominees I've read, finding most of them to be inconsequential little wisps of stories, many of them well-written but certainly not weighty enough to be called "The Best Novel of 2007." And thus do we come to the fifth Booker nominee to be reviewed here, as well as the one easily most well-known, Ian McEwan's On Chesil Beach; and let me tell you, if a common complaint about this year's Booker nominees is of their slight and inconsequential nature, On Chesil Beach isn't helping matters at all, in that it is such a non-excuse for a novel as to almost not exist. In fact, I can literally give you the entire plot of this 200-page, paperback-sized book in literally 177 words; and this is a major spoiler alert, by the way, because I'm not kidding, I really am about to tell you the entire storyline of On Chesil Beach from beginning to end, without skipping a single detail, in 177 words. Ready? A young middle-class couple get married in England in 1962, and spend their wedding night on Chesil Beach. He only got married because he's horny as hell and lives in middle-class 1962 England, where getting married is the only chance you're going to have to get laid, and as a result has now become a cuckold employee of his upper-class father-in-law; she despises the very idea of sex altogether, but is too much of a coward to tell her husband, instead spending months psyching herself up into performing her upcoming "wifely duties." The wedding night arrives. He gets so excited that he has a premature ejaculation on his wife's stomach. She becomes so disgusted that she flees the room in a panic. He chases her down the beach, where they have an explosive argument based on mutual misunderstanding of each other's behavior. She leaves him that night and their marriage is annulled (presumably). And he spends the rest of his life thinking about "the relationship that was never meant to be." No, dude, seriously, that's it; that's the entire freaking plotline of the book. Which, fine, I don't necessarily mind when it's a 10,000-word short story in a literary magazine, that I'm reading on a boring Sunday afternoon down at my neighborhood cafe; but seriously, as a standalone book for 22 damn dollars? And that the Booker committee has the gall to nominate as the best novel of the entire year? Seriously? Are you kidding me? It's hard for me to...

  8. 5 out of 5

    Glenn Sumi

    UPDATED: May 24, 2018, after watching the new film: This is my second viewing of the film. I first saw it last September during the Toronto film festival. I read the book a month ago. And I rescreened the film a few days ago to review before its theatrical release. I prefer the novel, especially for the witty, all-knowing narrator. The flashbacks are handled much more subtly in the book than they are in the movie. But the film (McEwan wrote the screenplay) captures the same tone of light comedy an UPDATED: May 24, 2018, after watching the new film: This is my second viewing of the film. I first saw it last September during the Toronto film festival. I read the book a month ago. And I rescreened the film a few days ago to review before its theatrical release. I prefer the novel, especially for the witty, all-knowing narrator. The flashbacks are handled much more subtly in the book than they are in the movie. But the film (McEwan wrote the screenplay) captures the same tone of light comedy and tragedy. Saoirse Ronan and Billy Howle are beautifully cast (as are Samuel West and Emily Watson as Florence's parents), and it's quite something to see the actual Chesil Beach. In the film you understand that if you walk all the way out on the beach, there's only one way to come back... which is an intriguing metaphor for the central decision in the book. The biggest difference in the movie, apart from (view spoiler)[the abuse being much clearer (hide spoiler)] , is the ending. As I point out in my review of the movie, film and literature are different mediums. I think we want to see certain things play out in a movie that we don't necessarily need in a book. So the ending in the film has a certain power. (I cried both times I saw it.) I love the book's ending – it's quiet, subtle and more believable than what we're given in the movie. But even though it doesn't all work (view spoiler)[the old age-y makeup, especially for Edward, is a bit much (hide spoiler)] , it's still very effective. *** A note-perfect novella On their wedding night in a seaside hotel room in 1962, a young British couple, both virgins, have a disagreement, and it has lasting implications. On the surface, that doesn’t sound very interesting, but McEwan manages to suggest so much. There’s obviously lots of humour in the young couple’s awkward fumblings: waiters barge in and out of the room serving them their bland, proper meal (although they’re not hungry); neither the man (Edward) nor the woman (Florence) knows who should make the first move; and when they eventually start to get intimate, things like zippers don’t behave... Furthermore, Edward desperately wants to have sex (he’s refrained from masturbating – or “self pleasure,” as the euphemism goes – all week), while Florence, intimidated by having read a dry sex manual, is dreading it. But there’s something deeper at play in their inability to say what’s bothering them – and why. This is, remember, Britain before the sexual revolution of the late 60s and early 70s, before people talked openly about their wants and feelings to friends and therapists or on TV. And the couple’s separate backgrounds, skillfully interwoven through flashbacks from the main narrative, also play a key role. McEwan’s omniscient, all-knowing narrator is a delight, finding just the right tone between comedy and tragedy. At one point he’ll have you chuckling about the little insecurities that bond us all, and then he’ll leave you crying at things not said, not expressed. Plus: there's lots of subtlety in the way that McEwan describes a bit of Florence’s history that absolutely affects her attitude to sex. (Surprisingly, many of the 1 and 2 star reviews of this book fail to mention this… perhaps they missed it?) Early on we’re introduced to the idea of fate; Edward recently graduated university with a degree in history, and he had a theory that great people determined their destinies. This becomes an intriguing theme as we’re shown how the two met, and, if we dig deeper (as we’re meant to, with McEwan), see the links that perhaps drew them together. Edward has a bit of a temper, much like Florence’s wealthy industrialist father; and Edward’s mother, who suffered brain damage from a life-altering accident at a train station, is also something of a musician, like Florence (a violinist who dreams of being in a professional string quartet). The climax, set on the eponymous Chesil Beach, is heart-stopping. Think of the setting: a narrow stretch of shingly land surrounded by water on either side… meaning if you go down it, you have to come back the same way. And the final few pages, which flash forward a year or two and then decades, are simply devastating. This is one of those books where, when I eventually pick it up again at a bookstore and reread the final pages, I know I’ll tear up again. (See also: The Goldfinch and Middlemarch) As McEwan demonstrated in the more ambitious but no less affecting Atonement, lives can change in an instant: over a lie, something misunderstood or perhaps even words simply unsaid. If you’ll excuse me, I’m going to listen to Mozart’s String Quintet in D major (K. 593). You’ll want to too, after reading this exquisite, note-perfect book.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Elyse Walters

    I have a First Edition of this small hardcopy book. I read it in 2007. There are other passionate 5 star reviews.. but I was incredibly disappointed. I felt it could have been a short story - I was angry that I paid full price for it. However ..I may re- read this book soon ( it only takes a few hours) with an open mind to see if my thoughts have changed. I’m guessing people today didn’t pay $30 for this as I had. Funny how the price bothered me so much.. and it did at the time.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Robin

    A story lives transformed by a gesture not made or a word not spoken. This little novel is so deceptive. It's under 200 pages, and the story seems simple: the 1962 wedding night of Edward and Florence, two young, virginal people in love. Edward is ready to burst with the desire to consummate their marriage; Florence is dreading it. But it isn't so simple. The night is a disaster, and wrought with the secret scars and fatal flaws the two people carry around. The writing is so revealing of the com A story lives transformed by a gesture not made or a word not spoken. This little novel is so deceptive. It's under 200 pages, and the story seems simple: the 1962 wedding night of Edward and Florence, two young, virginal people in love. Edward is ready to burst with the desire to consummate their marriage; Florence is dreading it. But it isn't so simple. The night is a disaster, and wrought with the secret scars and fatal flaws the two people carry around. The writing is so revealing of the complexities each person brings with them to a relationship. The crux lies in what is not done, what is unsaid, and then, painfully, what is unlived. Nothing matters except what could have been. Inconceivably, it is easier to live a whole entire life unfulfilled rather than utter one's truth or javelin over the barrier of pride. A whole life. (And my heart is wrenched without mercy.) That McEwan captures this so poignantly in under 200 pages demonstrates his mastery of the written word and his deep understanding of the human condition. He has rapidly risen in the ranks of my favourite authors. All she had needed was the certainty of his love, and his reassurance that there was no hurry when a lifetime lay ahead of them.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Roger Brunyate

      Almost A brilliant book, but such a sad one; it would be unfair not to say so up front. Ian McEwan is a master at dissecting emotions. Every page of this wonderfully-crafted novel gave me the uncanny feeling of living within the skins of the two main characters, Edward and Florence, just married as the book opens. When they fall in love, nurture ambitions, experience happiness, I feel these things too. But when happiness eludes them, the pain is unbearable, not least because the author never let   Almost A brilliant book, but such a sad one; it would be unfair not to say so up front. Ian McEwan is a master at dissecting emotions. Every page of this wonderfully-crafted novel gave me the uncanny feeling of living within the skins of the two main characters, Edward and Florence, just married as the book opens. When they fall in love, nurture ambitions, experience happiness, I feel these things too. But when happiness eludes them, the pain is unbearable, not least because the author never lets us forget by how small a margin their happiness was missed. In his last major novel, Saturday, McEwan pulled back from the multi-decade scope of Atonement , its predecessor, choosing to confine himself to the events of a single day. Here, the essential action occupies a mere three hours, described in a book which is itself unusually compact, a mere novella of only 200 delicate pages. In an opening that is surely a homage to Matthew Arnold's "Dover Beach," the new husband and wife sit in a hotel room within sound of the sea on England's South coast. They eat a mediocre meal in one room; in the next, their bed stands waiting. They love each other, there is never any doubt about that, but they are inexperienced and secretly afraid. The book tells how they came to that moment, and what becomes of their love and fears as they move from one room into the other. I have not known McEwan to write before in such detail about sex, but his writing is never prurient. Every detail serves to illustrate the psychological intercourse between these two talented and caring young people. On this particular night, as in a high-stakes game, their honeymoon bed becomes the board upon which all the other pieces of their relationship must be played. By going back to the early 1960s, that dark hour just before the dawn of the sexual revolution, McEwan performs the remarkable feat of undoing the modern liberation of sex from marriage and returning to a mindset in which marriage was not only a contract for sex, but sex might also be a prime reason for marriage. But not the only reason. The focus on the bedroom also makes you consider all the other qualities that these two bring to their marriage, and before long you feel that you know them very well. [Exceptionally well in my case, since I was also born in Britain in the same year (1940), and share qualities with each of them; readers might take this into account when weighing the objectivity of my reactions.] Edward is a bright young man from the country who has recently achieved a first-class academic degree. Florence comes from a more socially sophisticated family, though she herself is naive in most things. The one exception is her calling as a violinist; here as in Saturday, McEwan is extraordinary in his use of music; the sections describing Florence's quartet playing are right up there with Vikram Seth's An Equal Music, my touchstone for sensitive writing about musicians. So both are bright, both are talented, both feel the stirring of new possibilities, but there are big differences between them, socially and culturally (Edward, for example, is into rock), and they each want different things. But the most heartbreaking things in this book are not their differences, but how often and how close they come to making new connections; just an inch more, a moment longer, and everything might be all right…. Almost. But McEwan does not end the story in the bedroom or on the beach below. Much as in Atonement, though in only a few pages, he adds an epilogue continuing the story forward several decades. At the time, I felt it was too brief to settle all the emotions stirred up by the preceding pages, but now as I write, several hours after closing the book, I begin to see its rightness and appreciate its consolation. ====== I saw the movie last night. With one exception, though, I will have to put my comments as a spoiler, for those who haven't already read the book. (view spoiler)[The photography was excellent, especially in evoking the loneliness of that pebble beach. The sense of period was uncanny, not just in visual details but also practical ones. It’s in the book too, but seeing the unspeakable awfulness of that honeymoon dinner—melon slice with glacé cherry, and overcooked roast beef with mixed veg—slammed me with repellent recognition. The leads, Billy Hawle and Saoirse Ronan, were both good, if just a smidgen too old. But also—and this is what matters—too present. The scene in the hotel bedroom soon became excruciating to watch as the camera returned to it again and again. Not that it was inappropriate or in any way pornographic. But the reader manages his own balance between the psychological damage to these two young people and the clumsy physical act in which it is played out. The cinemagoer has to accept the director's balance, and loses a dimension as a result. The screenplay was by McEwan himself. I would need to go back to check, but my impression is that, in contrast to the usual approach of trimmming a novel to make a movie, the author has taken his own trim novella and expanded it. I certainly learned a lot more of the back-story than I recall from the book; I am not sure it was all relevant, however. Edward's family was certainly colorful, but the knowledge did not help me understand his honeymoon problems any better. Although still only hinted at, the relationship between Florence and her father seemed much more significant than anything I had picked up the book. As a result, in terms of the baggage that each brings to the marriage, the focus shifts almost entirely to Florence, as the victim of specific trauma in addition to the general repressed atmosphere of the time. Given her difficulties with physical sex, I don't understand why McEwan plunged her straight away into an apparently successful marriage with somebody else; how did that work any better? Indeed, the filling out of the later lives of the characters is weaker than the rest of this generally strong movie. (hide spoiler)] One thing I wholeheartedly admired was the music. In the book, we know that Florence is a violinist, and we see her with her quartet in concert at the end. But we cannot hear her. Not only does the film contain several scenes of her rehearsing or playing, but her music is there in the sound-track throughout: chamber music by Haydn, Mozart, Beethoven, and Schubert, all beautifully matching the emotional temperature, and music by others as well. My first reaction on coming home was to pull out one of the featured pieces and play it through with my wife, also a violinist. Through music, if not always in words or pictures, I felt I could live inside Florence, and experience something vital in her that transcended her problems. Is it any wonder that Edward seemed a little ordinary by comparison?

  12. 4 out of 5

    Julie

    I've been in a relationship with Ian McEwan for less than a month now, and, let me tell you. . . he's driving me CRAZY! I wonder things about him, like. . . does he have a particularly magical keyboard that only types out the right words? Does he even bother with an editor, or do his manuscripts sprout wings and fly independently to the publishing house, where they are lovingly pressed into clever books? Has he been in every complicated, interpersonal entanglement? How does he do this? How does he t I've been in a relationship with Ian McEwan for less than a month now, and, let me tell you. . . he's driving me CRAZY! I wonder things about him, like. . . does he have a particularly magical keyboard that only types out the right words? Does he even bother with an editor, or do his manuscripts sprout wings and fly independently to the publishing house, where they are lovingly pressed into clever books? Has he been in every complicated, interpersonal entanglement? How does he do this? How does he take two virgins on their wedding night in 1962, put them in one hotel room and create a captivating novel from that one scene? How does he make your stomach ache with anticipation and suspense without murder or violence or action. . . merely the psychological tension that exists between two humans? And how does he manage such taut, sparse prose?! Ahhhhhhhh!!!!!! Mr. McEwan. . . I'm sitting up. I'm paying attention. I'm your newest fan. You've shouldered your way into the crowded room of my favorite authors, and I don't think I'm kicking you out anytime soon.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Councillor

    Most people have already heard of Ian McEwan's presumable masterpiece Atonement, but many of his other novels have remained underrated ever since. On Chesil Beach is a simple love story about two opposing souls - but it is no love story in a typical way. In this short book, Ian McEwan reverses the love story and tells it backwards from their wedding night, allowing those events described to find a climax which might take them into a future with each other or separate them forever. In the beginnin Most people have already heard of Ian McEwan's presumable masterpiece Atonement, but many of his other novels have remained underrated ever since. On Chesil Beach is a simple love story about two opposing souls - but it is no love story in a typical way. In this short book, Ian McEwan reverses the love story and tells it backwards from their wedding night, allowing those events described to find a climax which might take them into a future with each other or separate them forever. In the beginning, Edward and Florence prepare each other for their wedding night. It is the year 1962; a time when talking about sexuality was not as easy and natural as it would be fifty years later. Both Edward and Florence are virgins; however, Florence believes Edward to be experienced with other women, and Edward doesn't know about Florence's anxiety to even think of sexual relationships, of the disgusting feeling which builds in her stomach whenever her thoughts wander off to this night she fears so much. It is a simple premise, a fact which keeps this book from becoming as interesting and masterful as the complex Atonement, yet a premise intriguing enough for me to become interested in the characters. And interesting and complex they were indeed. Ian McEwan's prose is beautiful as ever in this novella. He belongs to those writers you only have to read a few sentences from and immediately know they have been written by him. There is something powerful behind the words he chooses, something that makes you care for the characters even if it is sometimes difficult to understand their motivations. This simple story is able to say so much about human nature: how it is mandatory to talk to each other honestly about one's fears and feelings, because remaining silent could almost never lead into a happy future. Over the course of 200 pages, Ian McEwan spends one fateful evening with his two main characters and their wedding night, yet the only time this book feels boring is when pages and pages of background information are inserted, something which would not have been necessary, considering the precision the characters have already been developed with. But who if not Ian McEwan could have been able to talk about a wedding night for 200 pages and never make it appear senseless or as if he went rambling? Overall, my third McEwan novel proved to be a surprisingly interesting and insightful read, though while a lot better than The Innocent, not as complex and stunning as Atonement. Recommended for everyone interested in a convincing, yet not perfect love story written by a male author, although it may not be the best novel to start with if you want to get into McEwan's writing.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Kalliope

    When words fail. When words don’t fail. This is a distressingly sad story of promised happiness marred by the lack of words. They barely knew each other, and never could because of the blanket of companionable near-silence that smothered their differences and blinded them as much as it bound them. McEwan offsets the hopeless inability of the characters to communicate with each other with the splendid flow of his writing. For if the words that ought to have been said in the story falter, and those When words fail. When words don’t fail. This is a distressingly sad story of promised happiness marred by the lack of words. They barely knew each other, and never could because of the blanket of companionable near-silence that smothered their differences and blinded them as much as it bound them. McEwan offsets the hopeless inability of the characters to communicate with each other with the splendid flow of his writing. For if the words that ought to have been said in the story falter, and those that should have been buried in silence explode, the reader is left with McEwan’s language. This novel is set with crafted, contrasting, balanced, nuanced, full-bodied, sweet and sharp words that evoke the completeness of chamber music. For music is always in McEwan’s writing. There was however a dissonance. It seemed to me almost until the end that McEwan had been leaving a trail of word crumbs that would take us to a revealing monstrosity that would however explain the tragedy. But these were lost or dispersed by the waves or the wind in Chesil beach. **** On the Film: The script is by McEwan, and that ought to make the spectator tone down his/her anxieties. The visuals are beautiful, the recreation of the times, the early 1960s, and the setting Oxford, Oxfordshire and London, impeccable. The ending is however more of a pastiche than the somewhat anticlimactic ending in the book. Very well worth watching, though.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Fabian

    Having only previously read Atonement & Saturday, I was both incredibly reluctant and eager to know what the “literary device” used in On Chesil Beach was; a.k.a., why it almost won the Booker Prize. I must say that the prose is so simple as to be deceitful and I was instantly aware, as I reached its final pages, that this novel was NO Atonement. (Indeed this is the stark opposite of that new classic: it is small where Atonement is enormous and epic, simple while Atonement is complex, and At Having only previously read Atonement & Saturday, I was both incredibly reluctant and eager to know what the “literary device” used in On Chesil Beach was; a.k.a., why it almost won the Booker Prize. I must say that the prose is so simple as to be deceitful and I was instantly aware, as I reached its final pages, that this novel was NO Atonement. (Indeed this is the stark opposite of that new classic: it is small where Atonement is enormous and epic, simple while Atonement is complex, and Atonement is a love story while On Chesil Beach is about the absence of that particular element and the end of romance.) But there is also no reason to believe that, while taking on that same theme of crystallization of a particular moment in a human’s life, On Chesil Beach is the trash that Saturday is. That heinous novel, about a pompous neurosurgeon who believes he has literary entitlement just because he can “predict events” in his neobourgeois life, simply by knowing how the human body works, and dissecting daily minutiae into scientific (therefore, deeply unpoetic) reasoning, playing “God”--I found it incredibly irritating. Stupid. Especially having had read Atonement and thinking that a writer like McEwan would never dare disappoint the Reader. But after the popularity of the book I keep mentioning, and will continue to mention for time to come (with a strange type of fanboy fervor)-- Atonement-- I guess the author felt it comfortable to come up with simpler stories, perhaps even complete foils of the book that put McEwan at the forefront. The play with time is what McEwan is all about, more than being a romantic, more than being a mod Londoner. And On Chesil Beach succeeds admirably in that aspect. Sure, I could care less about Florence and Edward, their being “victims of their time” seems at once cliched, even somewhat intolerable. Why should we care about characters that really don’t even know themselves? I find Briony Tallis’s lie much more compelling than this: “how an entire course of a life can be changed--by doing nothing.” (203) This theme of doing nothing, or of active non-action, is a paradigm of most English classics, even modern ones like Kazuo Ishiguro’s awesome Never Let Me Go.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Darwin8u

    "...being in love was not a steady state, but a matter of fresh surges or waves, and he was experiencing one now." -- Ian McEwan, On Chesil Beach Almost no one can write about sex well in my opinion. You've got your erotic writers, fine, if your need for arousal and release comes from text rather than pictures or actual lovers. There are certainly millions of toss-n-tug novels that can certainly get things done. But these books, obviously, aren't literature. There are writers, like Ken Follett, wh "...being in love was not a steady state, but a matter of fresh surges or waves, and he was experiencing one now." -- Ian McEwan, On Chesil Beach Almost no one can write about sex well in my opinion. You've got your erotic writers, fine, if your need for arousal and release comes from text rather than pictures or actual lovers. There are certainly millions of toss-n-tug novels that can certainly get things done. But these books, obviously, aren't literature. There are writers, like Ken Follett, who seem to need to insert sex writing into a novel every 160 - 200 pages just to help drive the novel's narrative forward. Sex in these adventure, mystery, genre novels, etc., acts as almost a sign post or quick reward. "Congrats, fair reader, you made it to page 320, here is your second sex scene on a road with a monk." But as delivered, it all just seems a bit flat and not a little absurd. Now, I'm not saying there isn't good sex writing out there, I have actually come across some. Joyce, Miller, Chopin, and Lawrence all seem to be able to walk that narrow beach of rolling bodies without twisting their ankles on the rocks. They capture the human frailty and power and awkwardness and sensuality of sex without dipping into cliché or caricature. I'm not sure why some, few, writers I can handle and most others I just despise. I'm not a prude. I get that sex is a part of life. It isn't icky. I'm not ashamed by it. I realize like food, it is a part of life and thus needs to be represented and shadowed in art and literature. So, with all that baggage and preamble, it was still with quite a bit of trepidation that I slid into Ian McEwan's tight little novella. One reason I think this novel didn't bend me over too much with its very direct narrative about sex was Ian McEwan's mastery of language. He knew exactly what he was doing. He was aiming for an exact mood, a tension, a flick of a finger on a solo hair, an almost anti-climax, to convey the message of this novella. It required a tease, a premature crescendo, and in the end -- the cold, wet, and sticky dialogue of pain and regret.

  17. 5 out of 5

    piperitapitta

    È strano questo libro: statico, ma soprattutto pensato. Pensano troppo i due protagonisti. Pensano ma non parlano, o parlano del tempo. Ma non parlano del tempo che passa tra loro, dei loro sogni e del loro amore, dei loro desideri e delle loro paure; e così il tempo passa, li segna e li attraversa. E li divide, lasciando nel lettore l'amaro in bocca e un senso d'impotenza, e la certezza che forse sarebbe bastato solo un gesto per non perdere tutto. L'aver visto il film, oggi pomeriggio, mi ha fa È strano questo libro: statico, ma soprattutto pensato. Pensano troppo i due protagonisti. Pensano ma non parlano, o parlano del tempo. Ma non parlano del tempo che passa tra loro, dei loro sogni e del loro amore, dei loro desideri e delle loro paure; e così il tempo passa, li segna e li attraversa. E li divide, lasciando nel lettore l'amaro in bocca e un senso d'impotenza, e la certezza che forse sarebbe bastato solo un gesto per non perdere tutto. L'aver visto il film, oggi pomeriggio, mi ha fatto desiderare di rileggerlo. Ma non è tempo di riletture, questo.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Maxwell

    McEwan's economy of language is remarkable, and it's highlighted especially in this novel/novella. He deftly examines the inner lives (and turmoil) of two young virgins in the early 1960's—this was before the freedom of sex, drugs and rock 'n' roll had gripped England and allowed for a more equitable and open conversation around physical intimacy. On top of that, Florence is asexual (though never explicitly named) and struggles with her loyalty to Edward, her new husband and true love, and her o McEwan's economy of language is remarkable, and it's highlighted especially in this novel/novella. He deftly examines the inner lives (and turmoil) of two young virgins in the early 1960's—this was before the freedom of sex, drugs and rock 'n' roll had gripped England and allowed for a more equitable and open conversation around physical intimacy. On top of that, Florence is asexual (though never explicitly named) and struggles with her loyalty to Edward, her new husband and true love, and her own desires, or lack thereof. The story takes place on their wedding night but smoothly moves back and forth in time to give you glimpses of their individual lives as well as how they met, how they came to be married, and ultimately the result of a rather uncomfortable and potentially disastrous wedding night. McEwan creates such vivid characters in such a short amount of time—and if you've got 4.5 hours to spare I'd highly recommend listening to the audiobook narrated by the author himself. He's a very sympathetic author and reader, who makes an endearing read out of a topic that is traditionally taboo and awkward.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Mariah Roze

    This was a nice, short novel about two people consummating their marriage. They are both young and unexperienced and the book follows their short love story up and past the point of marriage. I enjoyed the book. It was simple and short with an entertaining storyline behind it. I listened to this book on audio cd and loved the interview with the author. It really explained the story well.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Dem

    Ian Mc Ewan is fast becoming one of my favourite authors. This is a short, simple story about a newly married couple called Florence and Edward and how " You can ruin everything by not speaking up" I listened to this book which was narrated by Ian McEwan and what a wonderful experience that was. This is one of those books that is full of hidden depth. On the surface the story may seem quite straight forward and yet there is so much depth to the characters and situations than first appears. McE Ian Mc Ewan is fast becoming one of my favourite authors. This is a short, simple story about a newly married couple called Florence and Edward and how " You can ruin everything by not speaking up" I listened to this book which was narrated by Ian McEwan and what a wonderful experience that was. This is one of those books that is full of hidden depth. On the surface the story may seem quite straight forward and yet there is so much depth to the characters and situations than first appears. McEwan has a gift as a writer and he pays amazing attention to detail, his prose is beautiful and not one word is wasted in the perfectly paced novel. I love how vivid he can create characters in such a short novel . Florence and Edward are just wonderfully developed and I found myself sympathising with both of them and the tragic situation they find themselves in. Like them or not you just can't help being drawn into this story. A great read and a book that would make for wonderful discussion in a book club.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Bianca

    This is the third novel by McEwan that I read. I watched the movie adaptation before I began reading the book. The movie was beautiful, the cinematography and the acting were superb. Of course, I was curious to compare how well the book was translated to the screen and what was left out of the book. I can't believe I'm saying this, but the movie was better than the book, as it had a bit more "meat". You'd think that because I had the movie visuals in my head, the book would have come to life even This is the third novel by McEwan that I read. I watched the movie adaptation before I began reading the book. The movie was beautiful, the cinematography and the acting were superb. Of course, I was curious to compare how well the book was translated to the screen and what was left out of the book. I can't believe I'm saying this, but the movie was better than the book, as it had a bit more "meat". You'd think that because I had the movie visuals in my head, the book would have come to life even more. To be honest, it wasn't the case. Something was amiss and I wanted a bit more to the story. I do admire a great deal that McEwan approached the subject of the wedding night when the two are virgins and have different sexual appetites and expectations. It was different, I can't remember ever reading a book where the woman was so disgusted and apprehensive about anything related to sex. I guess when it comes to sex, the line between sublime and yuck can be very thin. On Chesil Beach was good, but it didn't awe me like the Nutshell. Therefore it's only getting 3.5 stars - rounded up.

  22. 5 out of 5

    Perry

    The Young Man's Ego: A Heartbreaking Torpedo? "This is how the entire course of a life can be changed: by doing nothing." This is my first McEwan novel; it's almost a 5 but not quite. I must say, if this short novel is any indication, McEwan is a master of tightening the circles, bit by bit, to mounting tension and then to the Moment, the place and time when opposing forces collide, when choices must be made, and courses must be altered or not. He delicately weaves in the backgrounds of newlyweds F The Young Man's Ego: A Heartbreaking Torpedo? "This is how the entire course of a life can be changed: by doing nothing." This is my first McEwan novel; it's almost a 5 but not quite. I must say, if this short novel is any indication, McEwan is a master of tightening the circles, bit by bit, to mounting tension and then to the Moment, the place and time when opposing forces collide, when choices must be made, and courses must be altered or not. He delicately weaves in the backgrounds of newlyweds Florence, a talented classical string musician, and Edward, a history student without any clear direction for his future but seems earnest nonetheless, as they spend the afternoon and evening of their wedding in a hotel at Chesil Beach on the Dorset seashore. By their backgrounds and internal dialogues on the day of, the reader can see the baggage and expectations each carries: Edward, with his self-centered male ego concerning sex, and Florence, a fear of sex (possibly arising from being sexually abuse as she reached puberty). Use of the term "possibly" arises from ambiguities, which must be a McEwan staple in which he intimates but does not say. I was unsure where this would lead, but was awed by McEwan's tightening and fine-tuning tension in the conflict, like the strings on a violin. I enjoyed the novel. I found it rather self-revelatory and poignant and heartrending. Looking back, I detest the male ego I had when I was in my 20s (give or take a few years both ways), when it came to matters of, or relating to, sex. "It is shaming sometimes, how the body will not, or cannot, lie about emotions."

  23. 5 out of 5

    Cody

    I hadn't intended on reading any Ian McEwan in the near future, and this wasn't even atop my McEwan "to-read" list. However, as it is short-listed for the Booker, and since I have a tendency to hardly ever keep up with contemporary literature, I was inspired to pick this up at the library yesterday. Then, I proceeded to read it in one sitting. Of course, this rapid reading was very much aided by the length of the book, but this is ultimately an inconsequential reason for my fixation. As with *Ato I hadn't intended on reading any Ian McEwan in the near future, and this wasn't even atop my McEwan "to-read" list. However, as it is short-listed for the Booker, and since I have a tendency to hardly ever keep up with contemporary literature, I was inspired to pick this up at the library yesterday. Then, I proceeded to read it in one sitting. Of course, this rapid reading was very much aided by the length of the book, but this is ultimately an inconsequential reason for my fixation. As with *Atonement*, the only other of his I've read, McEwan here displays the most amazing ability to create such honest and well-developed characters, that it is, for me, seemingly impossible not to attach yourself at least somewhat to the “their stories”. While I think that *Atonement* is a more developed work—complex and historical, at once youthfully passionate and bitterly resigned—and, thus literarily, impressed me more, *On Chesil Beach* is, for me, much more affecting. This was due, in part, because I was more willing and able to become wholly enmeshed in the text. It also seemed more relevant to my present life, which, though I often shrink from reviews that make such a point, I must admit allowed me to become more invested, more enveloped in McEwan's tale. Though I claim that *Atonement* is more developed, we should remind ourselves that *On Chesil Beach* is a notably shorter work. I'm astounded at McEwan's ability, in such few words, to create complex characters and themes that are not in the least bit inchoate. The only author I know of who can take on such a multitude of themes in such a concise text is J.M. Coetzee, though he is an utterly different writer than McEwan. Whereas Coetzee is focused more on what we might call the social and the universal, McEwan explores the psychological and the individual. And, yet, through the seemingly specific individuals that McEwan creates, we wholly relate, thus imbuing his themes, emotions, ideas with a kind of universality. This work explores, so beautifully, much of what it means to be young, in love, and attempting to assume adulthood and take the first, daunting steps in an attempt to forge a fulfilling life. And, as I read, my heart simply broke.

  24. 5 out of 5

    Maria Bikaki

    Το έχω τελειώσει εδώ και μέρες και παρέλειψα να γράψω κριτική. Είναι νομίζω από κείνα τα βιβλία που σαν αναγνώστης μπορείς να πάρεις αρκετά πράγματα διαβάζοντας το και ταυτόχρονα και τιποτα. Όλα είναι θέμα οπτικής. Κεντρικό θέμα η ιστορία ενός ζευγαριού άπειρου ερωτικά και η μη ολοκλήρωση της πρώτης νύχτας του γάμου τους σεξουαλικά. Εκείνος λίγο διστακτικός και ανίκανος για πολλές πρωτοβουλίες και εκείνη ψυχρή και αρκετά εγωκεντρική. Ο συγγραφέας λοιπόν καταπιάνεται να μας παρουσιάσει το πλαίσιο Το έχω τελειώσει εδώ και μέρες και παρέλειψα να γράψω κριτική. Είναι νομίζω από κείνα τα βιβλία που σαν αναγνώστης μπορείς να πάρεις αρκετά πράγματα διαβάζοντας το και ταυτόχρονα και τιποτα. Όλα είναι θέμα οπτικής. Κεντρικό θέμα η ιστορία ενός ζευγαριού άπειρου ερωτικά και η μη ολοκλήρωση της πρώτης νύχτας του γάμου τους σεξουαλικά. Εκείνος λίγο διστακτικός και ανίκανος για πολλές πρωτοβουλίες και εκείνη ψυχρή και αρκετά εγωκεντρική. Ο συγγραφέας λοιπόν καταπιάνεται να μας παρουσιάσει το πλαίσιο μέσα στο οποίο αυτοί οι δύο άνθρωποι και ξεχωριστοί χαρακτήρες χάθηκαν στην πορεία, να σκιαγραφήσει το σεξουαλικό πρόβλημα που αντιμετωπίζουν, το χρονικό πλαίσιο γύρω από το οποίο εξελίσσεται η ιστορία όπου μάλλον δεν έχει φτάσει ακόμα η περίφημη σεξουαλική απελευθέρωση. Προσωπικά μου κέντρισε το ενδιαφέρον όλο αυτό. Μια ιστορία δηλαδή που δε θα διαβάσεις για τον απόλυτο έρωτα, για στιγμές ηδονής και αχαλίνωτου σεξ και έζησαν αυτοί καλά και εμείς καλύτερα. Αν μη τι άλλω ο συγγραφέας σε βάζει στο τρυπάκι να ενδιαφερθείς να μάθεις και να διαβάσεις τη συνέχεια. Μέχρι εδώ καλά. Αλλωστε κατά γενική ομολογία ο Μακ Γιουαν είναι καλός γραφιάς παρόλο που δεν αγαπώ πάντα τον τρόπο που επιλέγει να κλείσει τις ιστορίες του. Κάτι τετοιο έπαθα και εγω. Νιώθω αν μπορώ να το πω έτσι λίγο εξαπατημένη από το φινάλε το οποιο γράφτηκε μέσα σε 5 σελίδες και το βρήκα βιαστικό και απότομο. Δε με ενόχλησε τόσο η κατάληξη αυτή τη φορά όσο ότι θεωρώ ότι υπήρχε ένα χάσμα και έλλειψη πληροφοριών σε σχέση με την αρχή του βιβλίου όπου ο συγγραφέας φώτισε αρκετές από τις πτυχές του παρελθόντος και του παρόντος των δύο ηρώων. Επίσης κάτι άλλο που δεν είμαι απόλυτα σίγουρη αν μου άρεσε είναι ότι κατά την άποψη μου ο συγγραφέας παίρνει ξεκάθαρα το μέρος του άνδρα ήρωα παρουσιάζοντας τη γυναίκα ηρωίδα εντελώς ψυχρή και αντιπαθητική πράγμα το οποίο δε θα με ενοχλούσε διόλου αν εξηγούνταν στο χαρτί λίγο περισσότερο από την εύκολη επιλογή να γίνει ο εύκολος διαχωρισμός θύτη και θύματος. Σε γενικες γραμμές για να μη σας κουράζω συμπαθητικό βιβλίο, διαβάζεται γρήγορα και κάποιους θα σας ευχαριστήσει. Αν όμως αποφασίσετε ότι θέλετε να διαβάσετε λίγο πιο πίσω από τις λέξεις τότε σίγουρα θα υπάρχουν σημεία που θα σας δημιουργήσουν ερωτηματικά και απορίες.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Anna

    Από τα γνωστότερα έργα του Ίαν ΜακΓιούαν, ο οποίος έχει μια καλή φήμη για το έργο του. Το βιβλίο είναι μόλις 217 σελίδες με τεράστια γράμματα (!) και διαβάζεται εύκολα σε λίγες ώρες. Εξάλλου, κάτι μοναδικό στο έργο του συγγραφέα (έχω ξαναδιαβάσει βιβλίο του) είναι πως γράφει σε απλή γλώσσα και ο λόγος του ρέει πολύ εύκολα. Ομολογώ ότι για τις περισσότερες σελίδες δεν έβρισκα για ποιο λόγο διαβάζω το βιβλίο. Το άφησα πολλές φορές στην άκρη με το μικρό μέγεθός του και την ημερομηνία επιστροφής στη Από τα γνωστότερα έργα του Ίαν ΜακΓιούαν, ο οποίος έχει μια καλή φήμη για το έργο του. Το βιβλίο είναι μόλις 217 σελίδες με τεράστια γράμματα (!) και διαβάζεται εύκολα σε λίγες ώρες. Εξάλλου, κάτι μοναδικό στο έργο του συγγραφέα (έχω ξαναδιαβάσει βιβλίο του) είναι πως γράφει σε απλή γλώσσα και ο λόγος του ρέει πολύ εύκολα. Ομολογώ ότι για τις περισσότερες σελίδες δεν έβρισκα για ποιο λόγο διαβάζω το βιβλίο. Το άφησα πολλές φορές στην άκρη με το μικρό μέγεθός του και την ημερομηνία επιστροφής στη βιβλιοθήκη να πλησιάζει να είναι οι δυο βασικοί παράγοντες που το τελείωσα. Η υπόθεση απλή: δυο νεαροί έχουν μόλις παντρευτεί και βρίσκονται σε ένα ξενοδοχείο για να περάσουν την πρώτη νύχτα του γάμου τους, χωρίς να έχουν ολοκληρώσει άλλη φορά τη σχέση τους. Μέσα από τις σκέψεις και των δυο μαθαίνουμε για το background του καθένα, για τον τρόπο που γνωρίστηκαν, ερωτεύτηκαν, παντρεύτηκαν, καθώς και τα διαφορετικά άγχη που αντιμετωπίζουν τη σημερινή μέρα (για την ολοκλήρωση του γάμου, να το πω σεμνά). Τα πράγματα πάνε λίγο περίεργα κατά τρόπο που θα μπορούσε να αποτελεί άρθρο του Vice και το ζευγάρι ακολουθεί μια πορεία λίγο διαφορετική από αυτή που θα ανέμενε. Οι τελευταίες πέντε σελίδες είναι πραγματικά συγκλονιστικές και αποτελούν την ουσία όλου του βιβλίου (το ανέβασα τουλάχιστον ένα αστεράκι στη βαθμολογία) και εκεί αναδεικνύεται η σπιρτάδα του συγγραφέα. Τα πάντα δένουν στο τέλος, αποκτούν νόημα και δείχνουν πώς τα πράγματα που ειπώθηκαν, καθώς και αυτά που δεν ειπώθηκαν, οδηγούν τη ζωή ενός ανθρώπου σε εντελώς διαφορετικά μονοπάτια. Μια μόνο λέξη θα μπορούσε να είναι σαν το φαινόμενο της πεταλούδας: ένας άνθρωπος θα έπαιρνε μια διαφορετική απόφαση και η ζωή του θα ήταν εντελώς διαφορετική. Εξάλλου, δεν είμαστε παρά οι αποφάσεις που παίρνουμε κάθε στιγμή!

  26. 5 out of 5

    Amanda

    I don't know who this story thinks it is is, but it can shove off. It has put me in a bad damn mood and all I wanna do is fight. People are assholes. You know... I just... Ugh...!!!!!

  27. 4 out of 5

    Michela De Bartolo

    Inghilterra , siamo in un contesto storico in cui sul sesso gravano pesanti pregiudizi e inconsapevolmente siamo ad un passo dall’esplosione della libertà sessuale che arriverà con la fine degli anni sessanta. La prima notte di nozze di una coppia di ventenni inglesi degli anni Sessanta diventa una sorta di commedia drammatica , legata soprattutto al passato, rafforzata da gustosi inevitabili equivoci. Lui, Edward, giovane con ambizioni letterarie, ha poca esperienza con le donne in generale e con Inghilterra , siamo in un contesto storico in cui sul sesso gravano pesanti pregiudizi e inconsapevolmente siamo ad un passo dall’esplosione della libertà sessuale che arriverà con la fine degli anni sessanta. La prima notte di nozze di una coppia di ventenni inglesi degli anni Sessanta diventa una sorta di commedia drammatica , legata soprattutto al passato, rafforzata da gustosi inevitabili equivoci. Lui, Edward, giovane con ambizioni letterarie, ha poca esperienza con le donne in generale e con la neosposa di cui è innamorato. Lei, Florence, violinista non meno ambiziosa, nutre un'inconfessata e patologica repulsione per il sesso, forse a causa dell'educazione ricevuta, o perché la sua passione totalizzante è per la musica . Fulcro della vicenda è il rapporto tra genitori e figli e le conseguenze inesorabili sulla personalità e sulle scelte di questi ultimi, condannati a scontare in una spirale viziosa, traumi infantili e adolescenziali. E così Mcewan riesce a descrivere la loro prima notte di nozze come un capolavoro fatto di immagini, cose non dette e inconfessabili, pensieri che vorticano nelle teste dei due amanti, emozioni travolgenti sia come forza del desiderio di Edward che come forza del disgusto di Florence..... “Le occorreva soltanto essere certa che lui l'amasse, sentirsi rassicurare sul fatto che non esisteva nessuna fretta, avendo un'intera vita davanti. ... “Amore e pazienza. Se lui avesse detto...se lei avesse fatto...ma non sempre accade ciò che vorremmo: “ecco come il corso di tutta una vita può dipendere ... dal non fare qualcosa” e condannarci ad una esistenza di rimpianti.

  28. 5 out of 5

    Jennifer

    “This is how the entire course of a life can be changed: by doing nothing.” If I had to pick one quote to sum up the theme of this multifaceted story, it would be this one. Both of these characters have a lot of growing (and healing) to do and neither one is ready for marriage, and certainly not ready for consummation of any sort. This exquisitely-written story is lovely, sad, and very real all at once. We are watching two people painfully walk on eggshells around each other. They are inexpe “This is how the entire course of a life can be changed: by doing nothing.” If I had to pick one quote to sum up the theme of this multifaceted story, it would be this one. Both of these characters have a lot of growing (and healing) to do and neither one is ready for marriage, and certainly not ready for consummation of any sort. This exquisitely-written story is lovely, sad, and very real all at once. We are watching two people painfully walk on eggshells around each other. They are inexperienced and their preoccupation with the sexual element of marriage causes great internal conflict in terms of expectation, nerves, haunting pasts, and a complete absence of communication about any of it. On Chesil Beach is literary in nature and has deeper underlying issues that readers will likely only pick up on after reading an interview with the author himself (at least that was how it was with me). An interesting snapshot of how marriage may (or may not) function for this particular couple. Note: Be sure to read the interview with the author that is attached to this novel. In my opinion, it is crucial in order to gain the full reading experience and character perspective intended by the author. In the audio, it is located after the book ends but it completely changed the way I viewed the characters. I wish I had seen/heard the interview first.

  29. 5 out of 5

    Betsy Robinson

    Sublime, sexy, funny, technically and musically superb, wise, and heartbreaking. I will read anything Ian McEwan writes.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Reckoner

    ''Έτσι μπορεί να αλλάξει η πορεία μιας ολόκληρης ζωής - μένοντας αδρανής.''

  31. 5 out of 5

    Alistair

    McEwan is such a famous and well reviewed author that he should stand up to scrutiny unlike say a first time author feeling their way . I found the whole story unrealistic and artificial and some of the writing lazy . we are asked to believe that 2 people so in love and apparently still so years after their disasterous wedding night should not have found a way to overcome the inauspicious start . we are also led to believe that somehow this problem was because they were living in an era before sex McEwan is such a famous and well reviewed author that he should stand up to scrutiny unlike say a first time author feeling their way . I found the whole story unrealistic and artificial and some of the writing lazy . we are asked to believe that 2 people so in love and apparently still so years after their disasterous wedding night should not have found a way to overcome the inauspicious start . we are also led to believe that somehow this problem was because they were living in an era before sex was invented and emotional problems were talked about .this warped view is also compounded by the post Florence life of Edward which as the years roll on seems to be exaggeratedly liberated .it's suddenly all freelove and drugs . the two characters seem to be cyphers for their generation . The fact that she lived in Oxford , was a classical musician , hated pop music , had a distant father , an intellectual mother and lived in upper middle class Summertown are a lazy shorthand to explain her reticence about lurv making . he of course lived outside in the country , geddit , loved rock music ,and had a charmingly chaotic crazy family , is just a normal bloke eager to get his hands on a girl and marriage seemed to only way . that two so disimilar people should be in love at all was totally daft . the author also ruins the scene setting by intruding from his desk and computer to says things like " this was not a good moment in English cuisine " , the poor things no ciabbata , so unsophisticated ! Iiving in Oxford i did like the local references but if you lived in Croydon i should not think this meant much . it would just reinforce the idea that everyone in Oxford was called Rupert and cycled everywhere with a basket on his bike . ok some people do . if this was someone's first novel all this would be accepted but as the umpteenth novel from McEwan it all seems very narrow and unreal and superficial , so there ! BTW i think the author is not a nice man .

  32. 4 out of 5

    Jadranka

    Kao i uvek, i ovaj put Makjuanovi junaci su ljudi od krvi i mesa, puni strahova, predrasuda, kompleksa. Kod njega nema lažnog morala, on ogoljuje ljudsko telo i ističe sve njegove nedostatke, ali ne zato da bi ga izvrgao ruglu, već zato što je ono upravo takvo - nesavršeno i puno mana, baš kao što je i ljudska duša mračna i tajnovita. "Čezil Bič" se može posmatrati i kao studija o komunikaciji i poverenju među životnim partnerima, otvorenosti i poštovanju tuđih osećanja, spremnosti da se problemi Kao i uvek, i ovaj put Makjuanovi junaci su ljudi od krvi i mesa, puni strahova, predrasuda, kompleksa. Kod njega nema lažnog morala, on ogoljuje ljudsko telo i ističe sve njegove nedostatke, ali ne zato da bi ga izvrgao ruglu, već zato što je ono upravo takvo - nesavršeno i puno mana, baš kao što je i ljudska duša mračna i tajnovita. "Čezil Bič" se može posmatrati i kao studija o komunikaciji i poverenju među životnim partnerima, otvorenosti i poštovanju tuđih osećanja, spremnosti da se problemi reše i prevaziđu ili da se jednostavno dignu ruke od svega. Koliko zapravo poznajemo osobu sa kojom živimo, delimo sto i postelju? Makjuanov jezik je slobodan i lišen bilo kakvih stega, a njegova dela se lako čitaju. Neko bi rekao da je pitak, on to u neku ruku i jeste, ali u isto vreme je i izuzetno kompleksan, baš kao i njegovi likovi, koji na prvi pogled deluju obično i svakodnevno, a onda kad se zagrebe po površini, može se videti sva teskoba i muka koja ih pritiska i osakaćuje. I ono najbitnije, Makjuan se ne plaši da kaže ono što velika većina nas misli ili oseća. Mogu slobodno da kažem da je Makjuan, uz Markesa, svojim jezikom i složenošću tema koje obrađuje obogatio moju čitalačku 2014.godinu. Ocena: 4.5/5

  33. 4 out of 5

    Jenny (Reading Envy)

    I've been waffling on what I think about this book. It is the story of a wedding night, awkward sex, unfilled expectations, misunderstandings that aren't worked out. Unfortunately I could never read it through the characters' eyes, I was always too aware of the author somehow, his gaze on these people, a sneaking feeling that his emphasis was on the wrong things. And then there is a hint of something in Florence's past that is unresolved, even for the reader. I had looked forward to this one a wh I've been waffling on what I think about this book. It is the story of a wedding night, awkward sex, unfilled expectations, misunderstandings that aren't worked out. Unfortunately I could never read it through the characters' eyes, I was always too aware of the author somehow, his gaze on these people, a sneaking feeling that his emphasis was on the wrong things. And then there is a hint of something in Florence's past that is unresolved, even for the reader. I had looked forward to this one a while and was left unsatisfied.

  34. 5 out of 5

    Laura

    Rating: 3 stars Plot: 2.5 Characters: 3 Writing style: 3 "On Chesil Beach" by Ian McEwan is a story set in 1962. Two young and inexperienced newlyweds arrive at a seaside hotel to spend their wedding night. I enjoyed certain aspects of it, (e. g. subtlety of revealing information to the reader, the atmosphere of the period), but overall it's quite mediocre. It could've been a short story instead of novella, some parts felt contrived and the ending was unnecessary. [LTU] Įvertinimas: 3 žvaigždutės Siuže Rating: 3 stars Plot: 2.5 Characters: 3 Writing style: 3 "On Chesil Beach" by Ian McEwan is a story set in 1962. Two young and inexperienced newlyweds arrive at a seaside hotel to spend their wedding night. I enjoyed certain aspects of it, (e. g. subtlety of revealing information to the reader, the atmosphere of the period), but overall it's quite mediocre. It could've been a short story instead of novella, some parts felt contrived and the ending was unnecessary. [LTU] Įvertinimas: 3 žvaigždutės Siužetas: 2.5 Veikėjai: 3 Rašymo stilius: 3 Ian McEwan "Česilo pakrantėje" - tai istorija apie jauną ir nepatyrusią, ką tik susituokusią porą. 1962 metais jie atvyksta į pajūrio viešbutį, praleisti pirmosios nakties. Patiko kai kurie istorijos aspektai (kaip subtiliai skaitytojui atskleidžiamos detalės, puikiai perteikta laikotarpio atmosfera), bet apskritai kūrinys vidutiniškas. Būtų užtekę trumpo apsakymo - daug vietų pasirodė dirbtinės, parašytos, kad būtų daugiau puslapių, o pabaiga apskritai nereikalinga.

  35. 4 out of 5

    Jessica

    Reading Ian McEwan makes me want to give up forever on writing any more sentences of my own. It's just embarrassing. Why bother? Ugh. _______________ I am really glad I didn't read this book when I was a kid. If it had existed then and I'd come across it, between On Chesil Beach and Bell Jar I would've almost certainly gotten me to a nunnery, and I'd be there right now (though come to think of it, would that be such a bad thing?). Actually, I think I read this at precisely the right stage of my lif Reading Ian McEwan makes me want to give up forever on writing any more sentences of my own. It's just embarrassing. Why bother? Ugh. _______________ I am really glad I didn't read this book when I was a kid. If it had existed then and I'd come across it, between On Chesil Beach and Bell Jar I would've almost certainly gotten me to a nunnery, and I'd be there right now (though come to think of it, would that be such a bad thing?). Actually, I think I read this at precisely the right stage of my life. I see that not all the Booksters on here loved it so much, while to me it was just about perfect. So far both McEwan books I've read have dealt with sex and class, but also with this project of looking back at the past and trying to make sense of it, and of the ways we choose to do or not do certain things, at how we make decisions and conduct relationships with one another, and in this fumbling, unguided way wind up doing what it is that makes our lives. McEwan shows us history and the people trapped inside it, and he offers up a counterpoint to the Talking Heads song about days going by with a different view of the mechanics by which we each wind up having lived a certain life.... if that makes any sense, and it probably doesn't the muddled way I've explained it. Well, it does to me, and I actually thought this book accomplished it much more successfully than Atonement, which I also really liked. I think Ian McEwan is a terrific writer. I bet if I'd read him a another point in my life I wouldn't be responding so enthusiastically, but right now his stuff is making a lot of sense to me. I also love that he wrote a short, careful book. More people should do that. Everything doesn't need to be so big and sprawling. An excruciatingly crafted sex scene can be just as impressive as a multigenerational epic, in five hundred fewer pages. Saves on trees, too!

  36. 4 out of 5

    Fionnuala

    Probably my favorite McEwan book; I liked that it was so tightly constructed and the writing was great, as usual. I think he got the atmosphere of the period just right but I could have done without the present day bit at the end. Finally, I felt that he set the reader up for some act of violence which he then failed to deliver, leaving me a bit confused.

  37. 5 out of 5

    Jana

    It took me three years to finish it. I bought it on Heathrow, eyes full of tears because I was departing from my boyfriend in Dublin via London. It was the n-th time I did this, fiercely sobbing while sitting on my luggage and hating every step of the known airport. It always took me a while to get a hold of myself, because London has always been no-man's land. Up to now, London has taken place as the place where my bipolar relationship reached its highs and lows. My head spinning in all directi It took me three years to finish it. I bought it on Heathrow, eyes full of tears because I was departing from my boyfriend in Dublin via London. It was the n-th time I did this, fiercely sobbing while sitting on my luggage and hating every step of the known airport. It always took me a while to get a hold of myself, because London has always been no-man's land. Up to now, London has taken place as the place where my bipolar relationship reached its highs and lows. My head spinning in all directions, looking at my passport and my fucking mobile phone switched off, because I couldn’t stand another aching I love you, getting me back in that comfort zone. Confusing life-calling-reality obligations with my long-distance-relationship angst. It was really a long exhausting process. And luckily, then I still wasn’t prepared for this book. I would have found myself in novella’s last 20 pages and I would have murdered this stunningly doomed book. It’s about our tempered decisions and how they influence us. McEwan’s words have had a huge impact on me and he doesn’t waste them. Tragedies are not always loud. Impatience of the youth often creates an avalanche. And then memories, shame, regret and longing are your new adult companions.

  38. 4 out of 5

    Barbara

    The end of this book made it a 5 star read. It was a story set in the 1960's, a time when young people meeting, and marrying in the way the main characters did, would be uncommon now. The reader senses Edward and Florence are not not well suited to be married. She is a classical musician, and he loves rock, and history. She comes from a well off family in Oxford, and he is from a family that lives in a small hamlet several miles from Oxford. His father is a school master, and his mother is disab The end of this book made it a 5 star read. It was a story set in the 1960's, a time when young people meeting, and marrying in the way the main characters did, would be uncommon now. The reader senses Edward and Florence are not not well suited to be married. She is a classical musician, and he loves rock, and history. She comes from a well off family in Oxford, and he is from a family that lives in a small hamlet several miles from Oxford. His father is a school master, and his mother is disabled. Yet they meet, and become a couple. It is on their honeymoon and on Chesil Beach, that they confront these differences. McEwan has created a novel of regret. Reading other friends' reviews on GR, they had similar reactions to the end of this novel. I loved the way that McEwan reveals the lives that Edward and Florence go on to live. He is a master at revealing characters' depths while maintaining an economy of words. Readers may reflect on their own lives as they finish this novel. How many times have our lives been changed by encounters that might not have happened? Paths that cross or don't. Lives that intertwine or don't.

  39. 5 out of 5

    LW

    Il corso di tutta una vita può dipendere dal non fare qualcosa Per orgoglio,immaturità ,intransigenza, ignoranza Erano giovani, freschi di studi ,e tutti e due ancora vergini in quella loro prima notte di nozze , nonché figli di un tempo in cui affrontare a voce problemi sessuali risultava semplicemente impossibile. Anche se facile non lo è mai . *la foto di copertina è perfetta ,una volta tanto :) fissa uno dei momenti indimenticabili della storia con Edward impassibile nel suo silenzio virtuoso, n Il corso di tutta una vita può dipendere dal non fare qualcosa Per orgoglio,immaturità ,intransigenza, ignoranza Erano giovani, freschi di studi ,e tutti e due ancora vergini in quella loro prima notte di nozze , nonché figli di un tempo in cui affrontare a voce problemi sessuali risultava semplicemente impossibile. Anche se facile non lo è mai . *la foto di copertina è perfetta ,una volta tanto :) fissa uno dei momenti indimenticabili della storia con Edward impassibile nel suo silenzio virtuoso, nel crepuscolo estivo, a guardarla correre via sulla spiaggia, mentre lo sciabordio delle piccole onde copriva il rumore dei suoi passi faticosi e Florence si riduceva ad un punto sfocato in fuga, sull'interminabile rettilineo di ciottoli sfavillanti nella luce fioca .

  40. 5 out of 5

    Mary

    The last few pages shattered me. I'd like to read them again, but don't think I can, or should.

  41. 4 out of 5

    notgettingenough

    A dud if ever there was one.... I suppose I should start off by saying I read this yesterday in quite some pain, so maybe that has made me even more intolerant that usual. Not for the first time I wonder at the professional world of book reviewing, this receiving the highest of accolades from the English press. It’s all a crock if you ask me. This is a fifties/sixties story of the debacle of the wedding night of a young English couple. I wonder if it was a short story that got padded into 165 page A dud if ever there was one.... I suppose I should start off by saying I read this yesterday in quite some pain, so maybe that has made me even more intolerant that usual. Not for the first time I wonder at the professional world of book reviewing, this receiving the highest of accolades from the English press. It’s all a crock if you ask me. This is a fifties/sixties story of the debacle of the wedding night of a young English couple. I wonder if it was a short story that got padded into 165 pages in order to sell on its own, a mish-mash as it is of story line and facts about English society at the time. He wants to have sex, she doesn’t in a way that would be laughably stereotypical but for the fact that I don’t think I’ve ever read a book that takes itself so seriously, is so entirely bereft of humour. She is so revolted by anything to do with the idea of sex that when he accidentally ejaculates before he has managed to enter her, in shock and horror she gets dressed and runs to the beach and then miles away from the hotel. Dead set. Then when he, recovering from his shame, goes to find her, she accuses him of failure. Generously strewn expletives from me at this point, take them as given. I’ve never read anything so unconvincing in my life. So, they are in bed, she touches his penis as it is near her vagina and: http://alittleteaalittlechat.wordpres...

  42. 4 out of 5

    Will

    Short, not much more than a novella, but almost perfect. In 1962 Edward and Florence are between their wedding day and first night together. They are deeply in love but know next to nothing about each other. In that sense, the book could be about any age; what sets it firmly in 1962** (or really in any age up till then – it feels particularly Edwardian too) is that they are still virgins, and the sexual accident and misunderstanding that happens that evening would now have occurred much earlier Short, not much more than a novella, but almost perfect. In 1962 Edward and Florence are between their wedding day and first night together. They are deeply in love but know next to nothing about each other. In that sense, the book could be about any age; what sets it firmly in 1962** (or really in any age up till then – it feels particularly Edwardian too) is that they are still virgins, and the sexual accident and misunderstanding that happens that evening would now have occurred much earlier in their lives. So Edward is mortified and desperate to find fault; Florence is appalled and disgusted, her suppressed fears have come true, and she can’t stay in the room with him any longer. For a while at least, she needs to be alone. But what happens afterwards is timeless, really. It doesn’t matter what the trigger was, these two are polite to a fault, but strangers to each other. You want to scream “oh, just say you’re sorry! That it will all get better!” But of course neither of them can; they’re trapped in their own fear, anger, hurt pride, and embarrassment; and they part. The last few pages follow Edward’s later life where there is more than a hint of regret. And the point of the novel is, as Edward discovers (now, some forty years later), when he at last can admit that Florence was the one he had loved most in his life, that “this is how the entire course of a life can be changed—by doing nothing.” But this of course is only Edward’s voice, and I wonder if that is actually the message: after all Edward didn’t do “nothing” ... he hurled the ultimate insults of the ‘60s – frigid and bitch; after which there could perhaps be no reconciliation. About Florence’s later life, we learn little except that her string quartet did become successful and famous; perhaps she had no regrets at all. I think the real message is that being deeply in love is not enough; it can take a lifetime to know someone. Memorable quotes: "This was not a good moment in the history of English cuisine, but no one much minded at the time, except visitors from abroad." "On Chesil Beach he could have called out to Florence, he could have gone after her. He did not know, or would not have cared to know, that as she ran away from him, certain in her distress that she was about to lose him, she had never loved him more, or more hopelessly, and that the sound of his voice would have been a deliverance, and she would have turned back. Instead, he stood in cold and righteous silence in the summer’s dusk" "“You’re a bitch talking like that.” The word was a starburst in the night sky. Now she could say what she liked." "Edward took the next steps with fatal ease: she had known all this—how could she not?—and she had deceived him. She wanted a husband for the sake of respectability, or to please her parents, or because it was what everyone did. Or she thought it was a marvelous game. She did not love him, she could not love in the way that men and women loved, and she knew this and kept it from him. She was dishonest." "It is not easy to pursue such hard truths in bare feet and underpants." ** this is not exactly relevant, but it reminds me of Philip Larkin’s Annus Mirabilis: Sexual intercourse began / In nineteen sixty-three / (which was rather late for me) / Between the end of the Chatterley ban / And the Beatles' first LP

  43. 4 out of 5

    Kim

    Back in about 1988 a friend lent me a novel she had just finished reading. "You must read this", she said, "it's amazing". The book was The Child in Time and I had heard of neither the book nor its author before. My friend was right about the book being amazing. I still remember being very impressed by the writing. However, I was devastated by the premise of the novel: the effect on a father of the abduction of his three year old child - so devastated that I decided not to read any more of McEwa Back in about 1988 a friend lent me a novel she had just finished reading. "You must read this", she said, "it's amazing". The book was The Child in Time and I had heard of neither the book nor its author before. My friend was right about the book being amazing. I still remember being very impressed by the writing. However, I was devastated by the premise of the novel: the effect on a father of the abduction of his three year old child - so devastated that I decided not to read any more of McEwan's work for fear of being devastated all over again. Fast forward twenty years and a different friend gives me a pile of books as a gift. One of them is On Chesil Beach. I dutifully thank him, knowing all the while that I'll never read it, because it's written by Ian McEwan. The book stays on my bookshelf, though, because it's a gift and disposing of books given as gifts just seems wrong, even if I don't want to read them. So now it's 2012 and the book has been sitting on the shelf for four years, along with a number of other books I've been given or bought and haven't read. I decide to participate in a challenge to read books owned but not read before the beginning of the year. I pick up On Chesil Beach. It's time to get over The Child in Time. This novel tells a deceptively simple tale. It's 1962. Edward and Florence, an intelligent, well-educated young couple, have just married. They are spending the first night of their honeymoon in a hotel on the Dorset coast, overlooking Chesil Beach. Both virgins, they have quite different feelings as they move towards having sex for the first time. What happens on that night is interwoven with flashbacks of their lives and of what has led them to this point. What happens changes their lives forever. I did not find either Edward or Florence to be particularly sympathetic characters. While what happens is both horrifying and funny, I didn't feel fully engaged with either of them as people. However, what I found utterly compelling about the novel is its illustration of how the seemingly small decisions people make and the words spoken or left unsaid can irrevocably change lives. I love McEwan's prose: elegant, clear, economical. I love his re-creation of England and Englishness at the beginning of a decade which was to transform the world. I also love that he managed to say and to imply so much in so few words. I can confidently say that this novel has cured my McEwan phobia. I can finally get around to reading more of his work.

  44. 4 out of 5

    Kelly

    OK, seriously, Ian McEwan, you wrote Saturday. Saturday! You wrote f*ing Saturday! With its introspection and good and evil and everyday life and drama and mundane-ness and life and death and brain surgery and racquetball all wrapped up together in one ponderous experience of a book. So, Ian McEwan, what the hell is this crap??? It could have been good -- it was a promising premise. If only your characters hadn't been completely despicable, pathetic, mean creatures. I just want to find these two p OK, seriously, Ian McEwan, you wrote Saturday. Saturday! You wrote f*ing Saturday! With its introspection and good and evil and everyday life and drama and mundane-ness and life and death and brain surgery and racquetball all wrapped up together in one ponderous experience of a book. So, Ian McEwan, what the hell is this crap??? It could have been good -- it was a promising premise. If only your characters hadn't been completely despicable, pathetic, mean creatures. I just want to find these two people (who would be in their 80's now) slap them both in the face and scream "Get over yourselves!" This is my third McEwan novel and I loved Saturday best; Atonement was also pretty good. I realize that he writes books where most of the action is in the minds of the characters... that's OK. But this book goes beyond introspective and launches the reader right into disgustingly narcissistic navel-gazing. It's just not healthy. And honestly, Ian McEwan, it's a bit insulting for you to think we actually care what happens to these characters' sex lives once you've revealed them to be the nasty petty selfish things they are. --- PS: OH, and, um thanks for the Christmas present... really, I was going to read it anyway so... :-S PPS: I just saw someone else on Goodreads, giving it a positive review, recommended it for "those of us who enjoy whining about the complexity of heterosexual relationships these days." That is EXACTLY what I'm talking about.

  45. 4 out of 5

    Paul Bryant

    This was a bit of real life Goodreads-style book-detective work. Not that much work really, but hey, kind of interesting to us weirdos. I read this hot off the press and reviewed it saying thus : Don't know if any other pop music geek already pointed this out - probably did - but it contains a major historical gaffe which amused and annoyed me - in 1962 the guy is playing his classical-music-loving fiancee Beatles and Stones records which wouldn't be released for a whole year. I bet IM is sick a This was a bit of real life Goodreads-style book-detective work. Not that much work really, but hey, kind of interesting to us weirdos. I read this hot off the press and reviewed it saying thus : Don't know if any other pop music geek already pointed this out - probably did - but it contains a major historical gaffe which amused and annoyed me - in 1962 the guy is playing his classical-music-loving fiancee Beatles and Stones records which wouldn't be released for a whole year. I bet IM is sick and tired of being told about that howler already. Serves him right! Do your homework! You can see the puzzled comments of American friends below, and after some debate, it turned out that by the time the American edition was published IM had quietly fixed his mistake. Didn't know they did that!

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