Wednesday, April 9, 2008


In 1962, Edward and Florence get married and honeymoon in a hotel overlooking Chesil Beach. It takes place at an interesting time in England-just before the sexual revolution.

Both characters are young, educated, and shy. Edward comes from a family where the father has the dual role of both parents. His mother suffered an accident and was not sane, so the father raised the family. Edward's roots are middle-class. Florence comes from a well-to-do family. Her mother is cold and aloof. Does Ian have mommy issues?

The story is briefly about their courtship, but more about why both characters don't talk or understand each other on any deep/intimate level. When it's the wedding night, Edward ejaculates early and Florence panics. That's basically it. Then the relationship falls apart.

Ian provides a lot of flashbacks to kill the time, so the reader isn't left with just one chapter of a failed sexual experience.

I haven't read a book where one event is detailed so completely, but I still lack any attachment to either of the characters. Positive or negative.

If anyone has read this book and likes it, I'd love a good discussion.


Lisa said...

ON CHESIL BEACH was the first Ian McEwan novel I read and it hooked me. I find that he's a writer I like to take my time with. This story really got to me. I suppose it was the tragedy of what can happen with our inaction. Getting to know and sympathize with the characters was certainly something that occurred after the incident on their wedding night, but I can remember reading every excruciating detail of that evening, leading up to the disastrous sexual encounter and feeling what was to come. It's been several months since I read ON CHESIL BEACH, but I really loved it. It led me to read ATONEMENT, which I also loved and I've got SATURDAY on my TBR stack and I'm hoping to get to it soon.

cyn said...

i can't say i loved atonement, but i was intrigued enough that i put this one on my wishlist. if someone buys it for me, then i'll read it. haha! i usually don't do literary, so...

but i'm trying to expand my reading genres.

Denis said...

ON CHESIL BEACH touched me deeply. It speaks to poor choices and events that can cause regret that will last your life. The book led you to a point where you knew the honeymoon would create a disaster, and you hoped you were wrong.

cyn said...

ack, i don't like depresing books, no matter how profound. hmm.