Soon to be a major motion picture starring Saoirse Ronan
The bestselling, Booker Prize-winning author of Atonement brilliantly illuminates the collision of sexual longing, deep-seated fears, and romantic fantasy on a young couple’s wedding night.
It is 1962, and Florence and Edward are celebrating their wedding in a hotel on the Dorset coast. Yet as they dine, the expectation of their marital duties become overwhelming. Unbeknownst to them both, the decisions they make this night will resonate throughout their lives. With exquisite prose, Ian McEwan creates in On Chesil Beach a story of lives transformed by a gesture not made or a word not spoken.
APPLE BOOKS REVIEW
Novelist Ian McEwan excels at putting relationships under the microscope and examining their cracks. In On Chesil Beach, he casts his eye on newlyweds Florence and Edward. It’s 1962, and the novel turns what initially appear to be standard wedding-night nerves into something far darker; the events of that evening end up changing the entire course of the couple’s future. Unfolding through a series of flashbacks, the story expands on the couple’s courtship and examines the social expectations of the era. Saoirse Ronan stars in the movie adaptation.
Not quite novel or novella, McEwan's masterful 13th work of fiction most resembles a five-part classical drama rendered in prose. It opens on the anxious Dorset Coast wedding suite dinner of Edward Mayhew and the former Florence Ponting, married in the summer of 1963 at 23 and 22 respectively; the looming dramatic crisis is the marriage's impending consummation, or lack of it. Edward is a rough-hewn but sweet student of history, son of an Oxfordshire primary school headmaster and a mother who was brain damaged in an accident when Edward was five. Florence, daughter of a businessman and (a rarity then) a female Oxford philosophy professor, is intense but warm and has founded a string quartet. Their fears about sex and their inability to discuss them form the story's center. At the book's midpoint, McEwan (Atonement, etc.) goes into forensic detail about their na ve and disastrous efforts on the marriage bed, and the final chapter presents the couple's explosive postcoital confrontation on Chesil Beach. Staying very close to this marital trauma and the circumstances surrounding it (particularly class), McEwan's flawless omniscient narration has a curious (and not unpleasantly condescending) fable-like quality, as if an older self were simultaneously disavowing and affirming a younger. The story itself isn't arresting, but the narrator's journey through it is.
Customer ReviewsSee All
This novel is brilliant. It talks about a topic that no one really talks about. Beautifully written.
Small and perfect
If you want action, look elsewhere. This novel considers—among many aspects of humanity—the power of what’s not said. Here is a brief book where not a word seems wasted. It is as structured as a piece of music and as true as real life.
Delicately, beautifully, heartbreakingly rendered.
Delicately, beautifully, heartbreakingly rendered. A story set in 1962 when a man and woman face a dilemma and it is only after living a full life that one can assess the quality of the decisions made.