On Chesil Beach

On Chesil Beach

Book - 2007
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Random House, Inc.
The #1 bestselling author of Saturday and Atonement brilliantly illuminates the collision of sexual longing, deep-seated fears and romantic fantasy in his unforgettable, emotionally engaging new novel.

The year is 1962. Florence, the daughter of a successful businessman and an aloof Oxford academic, is a talented violinist. She dreams of a career on the concert stage and of the perfect life she will create with Edward, the earnest young history student she met by chance and who unexpectedly wooed her and won her heart. Edward grew up in the country on the outskirts of Oxford where his father, the headmaster of the local school, struggled to keep the household together and his mother, brain-damaged from an accident, drifted in a world of her own. Edward’s native intelligence, coupled with a longing to experience the excitement and intellectual fervour of the city, had taken him to University College in London. Falling in love with the accomplished, shy and sensitive Florence – and having his affections returned with equal intensity – has utterly changed his life.

Their marriage, they believe, will bring them happiness, the confidence and the freedom to fulfill their true destinies. The glowing promise of the future, however, cannot totally mask their worries about the wedding night. Edward, who has had little experience with women, frets about his sexual prowess. Florence’s anxieties run deeper: she is overcome by conflicting emotions and a fear of the moment she will surrender herself.

From the precise and intimate depiction of two young lovers eager to rise above the hurts and confusion of the past, to the touching story of how their unexpressed misunderstandings and fears shape the rest of their lives, On Chesil Beach is an extraordinary novel that brilliantly, movingly shows us how the entire course of a life can be changed – by a gesture not made or a word not spoken.

Publisher: Toronto : A.A. Knopf Canada, c2007
ISBN: 9780676978810
Branch Call Number: FIC McEwa
Characteristics: 166 p.

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multcolib_susannel Mar 22, 2016

Intense story of two private people who struggle to become intimate.

g
GLNovak
Feb 09, 2016

This very short (200 pages) story covers two hours of the wedding night of Florence and Edward. They are in their early twenties and both very inexperienced. It is 1962 but they both seem to be products of the very prim prudish Victorian era. Each has no experience, and very little information to draw upon when confronted with the actual marriage bed. McEwan did a wonderful job of setting the mood - fear, anxiety, anticipation, bewilderment, caution, love, caring - and I kept hoping for more than I got. I got involved and felt it a stretch that there could be characters like these two in the 1960's. I would have happily knocked their heads together. Another example of a terrible inability to communicate.

j
jenoteacher
Apr 10, 2015

This is no beach read. On Chesil Beach is a troubling distillation of how two intelligent, thoughtful, well-people meaning can get it wrong. Despite loving each other, Florence and Edward can’t reconcile themselves to a life together for one reason: sex, and their inability to talk about it. I loved this book because I could relate closely to both characters, with a little enjoyable distance provided by the setting of Britain in the early 60‘s, and ethos and expectations of the era that frayed their connection beyond mending. I was shocked, relieved, and saddened by the unexpected climax and denouement . This is the first McEwan I’ve read, and I don’t feel that I have a real sense for him as a writer, mostly because I forgot all about him. Florence and Edward were real people, living their untidy lives on the page.

WVMLStaffPicks Feb 01, 2015

In 1962, a young English couple book into the inn at Chesil Beach. As the tragedy of their wedding night plays out, the reader witnesses their past and future.

Chapel_Hill_KenMc Dec 04, 2014

A fascinating little study of British social mores of the early 60s and the destructive power of sexual repression.

d
dbrh852
Dec 01, 2014

I was prompted to read this book because it was on the reading list for my book group. I didn't like it when I started reading, but the tight, emotionally charged narrative soon captivated me. By the time I finished, I was in awe that McEwan packed so much emotional depth into just 200 pages. The story is sad, but poignant. This short book packs a lot of character development and emotional power.

p
Persnickety77
Nov 20, 2014

oh this is a sad little book. a great in-depth portrayal of how little 2 people in love can understand each other. communication is key people!

n
nicolenozick
Jul 15, 2013

read it the first time about 8 years ago. always stuck with me. read it again recently. better the first time. british. typical mcewan. excellent.

a
artmatters
May 16, 2013

I read a lot...really a lot. If a book doesn't hook me within the first 30 pages, I put it aside. This book's first sentence hooked me and I couldn't put it down until I read, with a broken heart, the very last sentence. Few stories stay with me beyong a week or two but I know I'll remember Florence and Edward for a long time. This is the first Ian McEwan novel I have ever read (I didn't finish "Atonement") all the way through and I now want to read more of his work. And I think I'll give "Atonement" another try. "On Chesil Beach" is simply wonderful.

VaughanPLDaniela Jan 25, 2013

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Iridollae
Jun 16, 2011

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Nov 09, 2007

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ladyhawk
Mar 12, 2008

Sexual Content: This title contains Sexual Content.

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