Hide this

Results from Google Books

Click on a thumbnail to go to Google Books.

On Chesil Beach by Ian McEwan

On Chesil Beach (original 2007; edition 2008)

by Ian McEwan

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
6,656317564 (3.61)444
Title:On Chesil Beach
Authors:Ian McEwan
Info:Anchor (2008), Edition: Reprint, Paperback, 224 pages
Collections:Your library
Tags:Fiction, 2013

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. 00
    The Falls by Joyce Carol Oates (KayCliff)
  3. 00
    The Sense of an Ending by Julian Barnes (BookshelfMonstrosity)
    BookshelfMonstrosity: These brief, intricately plotted novels are reflective, character-driven stories that examine a pivotal event from different perspectives. In a complex narrative that shifts between past and present, individuals who grew up in 1960s England discover that memory can be unreliable.… (more)
  4. 00
    Mr. Phillips by John Lanchester (lizchris)
    lizchris: Similar stream of consciousness style
  5. 11
    Traumnovelle by Arthur Schnitzler (haraldo)
    haraldo: Both stories are about sexuality and marriage.
  6. 22
    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.
  7. 01
    Eleven Minutes by Paulo Coelho (BookshelfMonstrosity)
    BookshelfMonstrosity: On Chesil Beach and Eleven Minutes are psychological explorations of how sexuality and love affect who one is, how they view themselves, and how they interact with others.
  8. 05
    The Time Traveler's Wife by Audrey Niffenegger (whitewavedarling)

Sign up for LibraryThing to find out whether you'll like this book.

No current Talk conversations about this book.

» See also 444 mentions

English (282)  Dutch (10)  Italian (6)  French (4)  German (4)  Spanish (3)  Swedish (3)  Danish (2)  Portuguese (1)  Hebrew (1)  Norwegian (1)  All languages (317)
Showing 1-5 of 282 (next | show all)
A meditation on the idea that the things we regret are the things we don't do or say.

McEwan puts Florence & Edward in a tight trap, making them work their way out of it. He taps into the mores of the day, making them creatures of their times, perfecting the scenario as he does.

I'm left wondering: have they missed out, or is there a nobility in honoring the love they knew to be truest in their time on this Earth? ( )
  LauraCerone | May 26, 2016 |
In life, small moments hold the secrets of years, and one chance disaster or dream changes everything. Like Chesil Beach, our lives are built on pebbles stranded by chance.

In Ian McEwan’s novel, the course of dreams has led to the wedding night of two characters who, like any married couple, might just as easily never have met. Each carries the secrets of their time—1960s, before the sexual revolution, when intimacy wasn’t talked about and fears were never expressed. The question arises promptly—how much control will those secrets, born of small moments, have over the future of love.

Ian McEwan’s ability to slip into the mind of a woman’s wounded innocence drives one third of this tale, while his masterful depiction of man’s balancing act between action and emotion drives another. But a third story slips between the lines, extending what could be a simple story of the 60s into a novel for all times. Those secrets we keep, those moments that break, those hurts that are secret until the right time which, being a moment itself, might never arise...

Are there dark things untold in this novel? That’s for the reader to guess. Certainly sexual details are proffered with surprising detail and intimate compassion. But there’s always a sense of more, guessed at but never expressed. And if life’s unknowns are poured into music by the end, perhaps it’s the song of the waves on Chesil Beach.

Disclosure: A friend didn’t particularly enjoy this novel so she gave it to me and I loved it. ( )
  SheilaDeeth | Mar 4, 2016 |
I grew up playing on Chesil Beach, running up and down the shingle, and messing around in boats on the Fleet. The choice of this particular beach is inspired for this story.

The lagoon sits happily behind a shingle wall while the English Channel, essentially the Atlantic Ocean, roars a mere 600 feet away and the famous Portland Race, a magnificent tidal phenomenon, rages just to the South.

I remember sailing my uncle's small boat around the Fleet and fishing in the inner harbor and feeling very safe from the dramatic sea (you really have to see it in a storm) and I like to think that Ian McEwan intends this apparent safety to be a metaphor for the suppressed emotions of Edward and Florence, protected by an impossibly thin barrier of social convention from the stormy and excitable seas nearby. Wonderful.
( )
  MartynChuzz | Feb 22, 2016 |
Beautifully written, and extremely evocative. ( )
  magerber | Feb 22, 2016 |
Very poignant. ( )
  keithostertag | Feb 19, 2016 |
Showing 1-5 of 282 (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.
Sans fard, Ian McEwan décrit cette jeunesse encore prisonnière de ses convenances, méconnaissant tout des relations sexuelles et de la vie de couple, mariés seulement après quelques flirts pudiques. Cette première nuit d'intimité détermine leur vie entière, leur engagement alors définitif.

» 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
You must log in to edit Common Knowledge data.
For more help see the Common Knowledge help page.
Series (with order)
Canonical title
Original title
Alternative titles
Original publication date
Important places
Important events
Information from the French Common Knowledge. Edit to localize it to your language.
Related movies
Awards and honors
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.
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.
Last words
(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
Disambiguation notice
Publisher's editors
Publisher series
Information from the Finnish Common Knowledge. Edit to localize it to your language.
Original language

References to this work on external resources.

Wikipedia in English (2)

Book description
Haiku summary
Happy newlyweds
can not communicate fear:
Unhappy ending.

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 Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:04:01 -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

Quick Links

Swap Ebooks Audio
249 avail.
217 wanted
9 pay7 pay

Popular covers


Average: (3.61)
0.5 8
1 61
1.5 16
2 179
2.5 57
3 534
3.5 212
4 794
4.5 134
5 355


3 editions of this book were published by Audible.com.

See editions

Is this you?

Become a LibraryThing Author.


Help/FAQs | About | Privacy/Terms | Blog | Store | Contact | LibraryThing.com | APIs | WikiThing | Common Knowledge | Legacy Libraries | Early Reviewers | 105,916,915 books! | Top bar: Always visible