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On Chesil Beach by Ian McEwan
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On Chesil Beach (original 2007; edition 2008)

by Ian McEwan

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6,257None637 (3.62)382
Member:LynnB
Title:On Chesil Beach
Authors:Ian McEwan
Info:Anchor (2008), Edition: Reprint, Paperback, 224 pages
Collections:Your library
Rating:****
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. 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 382 mentions

English (260)  Dutch (8)  Italian (6)  French (4)  German (4)  Swedish (3)  Danish (2)  Spanish (2)  Portuguese (1)  Norwegian (1)  All languages (291)
Showing 1-5 of 260 (next | show all)
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 |
On Chesil Beach: A Novel: I purchased this book for a bookclub read and was hopeful of a very good read by the title and the write up, but I was sadly let down. The book is much ado about nothing. Terribly wordy with little content and none of the characters are developed enough to be likeable. In short - a bore.
  lonepalm | Feb 5, 2014 |
Expectations kept silent. The dreaded anticipation. Fear and exhilaration. What happens when 2 young people, very much in love, who communicate over everything except the one event following their wedding. Everything about how they met, what they like about each other, their past and their hopes for the future are gently laid open but at the back of it all lies their individual and unvoiced expectation of the wedding night. All it takes is one unexpected event to change the course of the future. ( )
  cameling | Jan 23, 2014 |
This short novel has at its core a calamitous wedding night between an inexperienced pair of characters in the early 1960s, the circumstances that led to this moment, and an epilogue describing the repercussions it left for one of the characters. Most of the focus is on the inner thoughts of the characters, making their feeble attempts to communicate with one another seem all the more pathetic. I pitied them in a way for how poorly they had been equipped for the task at hand, and I felt that McEwan told their story in a way calculated to make it difficult to assign all the blame to any one individual. ( )
  rmagahiz | Dec 21, 2013 |
This novel by Ian McEwan is the scene of the intense wedding night of Edward and Florence. Taking place in England in the early 60's, the couple spends their first honeymoon night at an an inn on Chesil Beach.

Alternating back and forth, the two characters relive and describe their childhood, how they came to meet, and fall in love. Both awkward and nervous, they painstakingly overthink and analyze what each other must be feeling and thinking. But how well do they really know each other? This story is the ultimate lesson in communication or rather lack thereof and the very disappointing result of not being truthful with one another.

A book so very well written, it's one to be read slowly so as to appreciate it's excellence. ( )
  missjomarch | Dec 2, 2013 |
Showing 1-5 of 260 (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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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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