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Aan Chesil Beach by Ian MacEwan
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Aan Chesil Beach (original 2007; edition 2007)

by Ian MacEwan

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6,317295626 (3.62)389
Member:kingchicken
Title:Aan Chesil Beach
Authors:Ian MacEwan
Info:Amsterdam De Harmonie 2007
Collections:Read but unowned
Rating:***
Tags:None

Work details

On Chesil Beach by Ian McEwan (2007)

  1. 10
    The Sea by John Banville (kiwiflowa)
    kiwiflowa: same introspective feel and prose etc
  2. 11
    Traumnovelle by Arthur Schnitzler (haraldo)
    haraldo: Both stories are about sexuality and marriage.
  3. 00
    Mr. Phillips by John Lanchester (lizchris)
    lizchris: Similar stream of consciousness style
  4. 01
    Eleven Minutes by Paulo Coelho (BookshelfMonstrosity)
  5. 12
    The Heart of the Matter by Graham Greene (akfarrar)
    akfarrar: Another serious book with marriage at the heart of it and the tug of war between being an individual and uniting with an 'other'. Both deal with a generation of people on the edge of change and with matters both earthly and spiritual.
  6. 05
    The Time Traveler's Wife by Audrey Niffenegger (whitewavedarling)
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» See also 389 mentions

English (264)  Dutch (8)  Italian (6)  French (4)  German (4)  Swedish (3)  Danish (2)  Spanish (2)  Portuguese (1)  Hebrew (1)  Norwegian (1)  All languages (296)
Showing 1-5 of 264 (next | show all)
2007's On Chesil Beach exemplifies what I admire about Ian McEwan's writing - the simplicity, the matter-of-fact straightforward style of his hand is beautifully displayed in this 200-page novella.

Edward and Florence have just been married, and have arrived at an inn on Chesil Beach for their honeymoon. The reader is immediately thrown into an extremely intimate setting, one that becomes all the more uncomfortable when the internal monologues and histories of these two characters are brought to light.

Separated into chapters, McEwan deftly alternates between their individual past and present. perspectives, giving his reader the sense that we know a little too much - even more than one does of the other. Their combined story, though it will only take an avid reader an hour or so to finish the book, reads like a five-act Shakespearean tragedy, filled with those slight betrayals which always bring a tragedy to its unpleasant climax.

McEwan has never been one to shy away from explicit naturalism (Enduring Love) and this story, though tantalizingly brief, is no exception. But that gritty sort of treatment is never gratuitous - rather, it always plays into the larger metaphor at hand. In this case, an all-embracing criticism of inaction and the failure that follows.

www.theliterarygothamite.com ( )
  laurscartelli | Jul 20, 2014 |
Wow! When I first began this book, I quickly had a feeling that it wasn't "my type of book". However, I was sucked in so fast, wanting to know what would happen next to the characters. Needless, to say, I read this in one sitting (in between caring for my sick lil neonate foster kitten!), and I think that is probably why it will be in my mind in the future. The fluidity of this book was seamless. But, oh my, what a story... ( )
  patsaintsfan | May 23, 2014 |
Wow! When I first began this book, I quickly had a feeling that it wasn't "my type of book". However, I was sucked in so fast, wanting to know what would happen next to the characters. Needless, to say, I read this in one sitting (in between caring for my sick lil neonate foster kitten!), and I think that is probably why it will be in my mind in the future. The fluidity of this book was seamless. But, oh my, what a story... ( )
  patsaintsfan | May 23, 2014 |
Sad but intertainin. ( )
  Harrod | May 16, 2014 |
This is more of a draft short story. McEwan could have carved this down to 30 good dense pages where the lack of character development and odd shifts in pace wouldn't stand out but rather, be expected. ( )
  8heist | Mar 4, 2014 |
Showing 1-5 of 264 (next | show all)
On Chesil Beach is brief and carefully plotted, the writing is measured, the tone of voice is forgiving and nostalgic. In other words, it is a fine example of emotion recollected in tranquillity. Even so, I couldn't help regretting the fun McEwan might have had with these sad fumbling innocents when he was younger, less mellow, and a great deal less forbearing.
added by jburlinson | editNew York Review of Books, Al Alvarez (pay site) (Jul 19, 2007)
 
After two big, ambitious novels — “Atonement” and “Saturday” — Ian McEwan has inexplicably produced a small, sullen, unsatisfying story that possesses none of those earlier books’ emotional wisdom, narrative scope or lovely specificity of detail.
 

» Add other authors (20 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Ian McEwanprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Basso, SusannaTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Torrescasana, AlbertTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Verhoef, RienTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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To Annalena
First words
They were young, uneducated, and both virgins on this, their wedding night, and they lived in a time when conversation about sexual difficulties was plainly impossible. But it is never easy.
Quotations
This was still the era - it would end later in that famous decade - 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.
There was no one she could have talked to. Ruth, her sister, was too young, and her mother, perfectly wonderful in her way, was too intellectual, too brittle, an old-fashioned bluestocking. Whenever she confronted an intimate problem, she tended to adopt the public manner of the lecture hall, and use longer and longer words, and make references to books she thought everyone should have read.
Britain, England, was a minor power - saying this gave a certain blasphemous pleasure. Downstairs, of course, they took a different view. Anyone over forty would have fought, or suffered, in the war and known death on an unusual scale, and would not have been able to believe that a drift into irrelevance was the reward for all the sacrifice.
The term dissolved intimacy, it coolly measured his mother by a public standard that everyone could understand.
It pained him tremendously that their wedding night was not simple, when their love was so obvious.
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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Haiku summary
Happy newlyweds
can not communicate fear:
Unhappy ending.
(ElBarto)

Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 0385522401, Hardcover)

Such is Ian McEwan's genius that, despite rambling nature walks and the naming of birds, his subject matter remains hermetically sealed in the hearts of two people.

It is 1962 when Edward and Florence, 23 and 22 respectively, marry and repair to a hotel on the Dorset coast for their honeymoon. They are both virgins, both apprehensive about what's next and in Florence's case, utterly and blindly terrified and repelled by the little she knows. Through a tense dinner in their room, because Florence has decided that the weather is not fine enough to dine on the terrace, they are attended by two local boys acting as waiters. The cameo appearances of the boys and Edward and Florence's parents and siblings serve only to underline the emotional isolation of the two principals. Florence says of herself: "...she lacked some simple mental trick that everyone else had, a mechanism so ordinary that no one ever mentioned it, an immediate sensual connection to people and events, and to her own needs and desires...."

They are on the cusp of a rather ordinary marital undertaking in differing states of readiness, willingness and ardor. McEwan says: "Where he merely suffered conventional first-night nerves, she experienced a visceral dread, a helpless disgust as palpable as seasickness." Edward, having denied himself even the release of self-pleasuring for a week, in order to be tip-top for Florence, is mentally pawing the ground. His sensitivity keeps him from being obvious, but he is getting anxious. Florence, on the other hand, knows that she is not capable of the kind of arousal that will make any of this easy. She has held Edward off for a year, and now the reckoning is upon her.

McEwan is the master of the defining moment, that place and time when, once it has taken place, nothing will ever be the same after it. It does not go well and Florence flees the room. "As she understood it, there were no words to name what had happened, there existed no shared language in which two sane adults could describe such events to each other." Edward eventually follows her and they have a poignant and painful conversation where accusations are made, ugly things are said and roads are taken from which, in the case of these two, the way back cannot be found. Late in Edward's life he realizes: "Love and patience--if only he had them both at once--would surely have seen them both through." This beautifully told sad story could have been conceived and written only by Ian McEwan. --Valerie Ryan

(retrieved from Amazon Mon, 30 Sep 2013 13:22:40 -0400)

(see all 6 descriptions)

The story centers around two newlyweds, Edward and Florence Mayhew, both virgins, who must struggle through their internal battles with sexual anxiety.

(summary from another edition)

» see all 7 descriptions

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