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On Chesil Beach Hardcover – Apr 3 2007


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 176 pages
  • Publisher: Knopf Canada; 1st edition (April 3 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0676978819
  • ISBN-13: 978-0676978810
  • Product Dimensions: 19.8 x 13.5 x 2.3 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 272 g
  • Average Customer Review: 3.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (20 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #249,845 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)


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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Troy Parfitt TOP 500 REVIEWER on Oct. 22 2013
Format: Paperback
It’s pre-Sexual Revolution England, the early 1960s, and Florence and Edward are in a hotel room in southern England about to consummate their marriage. He seems keen, she not so much. The author uses a series of flashbacks to show what came before this fateful night, and he does so with sparse, crisp prose and by realistically setting his fiction against the climate and history of the time. It’s hard, really, to say any more about the novel without including a spoiler, so I’ll just say that I enjoyed and recommend it. This was my first Ian McEwan novel. I picked it up without knowing anything about it except that it was one of his more recent efforts. I will try to read more of McEwan’s work in the future. He’s a very good writer and yarn spinner.

Troy Parfitt is the author of Why China Will Never Rule the World
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Linda Bulger on Nov. 21 2007
Format: Hardcover
Was anyone ever as naive and blundering as Florence and Edward? These two young people in their early twenties demonstrate a depth of ignorance that dooms their wedding night. Ian McEwan's novella ON CHESIL BEACH covers the few hours in 1962 during which Florence and Edward eat a mediocre wedding dinner in a hotel suite, move to the bedroom where they botch the whole thing badly, and fail to say the one thing, offer the one reconciliaton that could have saved them.

The overriding gift of this little book is McEwan's beautiful writing, which truly takes center stage. The plot is closely contained within Florence and Edward's relationship and the events of their wedding night, and there is barely enough supporting documentation to justify his clumsiness and her terror.

The point is universally made by reviewers that all this was before the Sexual Revolution of the sixties and early seventies. It hardly seems enough to explain the complete lack of communication between these two, and especially Florence's fear of sex. McEwan throws out a few clues about the relationship between Florence and her father but chooses not to develop them, and it's a noticeable choice in such a short book.

Another choice McEwan made was to define the story so closely. ON CHESIL BEACH is unusual in this regard: it's a book that could have been longer. After the fine dissection of the wedding night, the last section pelts through several decades, as if the only thing about these two worth discussing was over and done with. The harsh last minutes of the wedding night, on the beach, might have been a fulcrum point for a longer story. That was not McEwans' choice, however.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Stephen A. Haines HALL OF FAMETOP 500 REVIEWER on June 21 2007
Format: Hardcover
The media reviews which have typified this book as symbolic of the "sexual revolution" of the 1960s are shortchanging McEwan's abilities as an observer and writer. He has managed to compress the life stories of two people within a meagre framework. The economy of his prose is only matched by his skill in conveying how two people develop into adults. That adulthood sits uncomfortably on both. Young, inexperienced and hestitant, McEwan's characters stand out as living refutations of 1960s stereotypes. As a testimonial to excellent writing, this book is without peer.

McEwan uses the setting of two people on their wedding night to weave an account of the post-war era. The pair were born at WWII's conclusion, but came to maturity in turbulent times. On the one hand, the long-standing British Empire was coming apart at the seams. India had already departed and African and Caribbean nations were struggling to follow suit. It was a time of seemingly great instability. On the other hand, it was also the age of John F. Kennedy. Kennedy seemed to offer fresh promise and the British people developed an ambition to follow that path. That attitude of hope was imbued in both Edward and Florence. Both, from vastly different backgrounds, groped through their young lives for means to depart from the norms they experienced as children. They have little tie to the "old values", but have only the vaguest notion of what new ones they should adopt. Britain, long in thrall of a class system, might cast off the shackles of conformity. Edward and Florence aren't truly aware of this shift in society, are inexperienced and fumbling in their sense of experiment. Both are aware of what they think they want from life, but neither is truly cognisant of the other's aims.
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4 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Daphne du Martine on Aug. 17 2007
Format: Hardcover
Short-listed for Booker? Must be for author's reputation. A sloppy dull account of apparently the first night ever invented in history of a jittery couple, that reads like very bad English romantic fiction. The detailing of being so much in love (truly or for show) then being disappointed, is antithetical by the end of act 2 scene, especially when there is no whisper of concern prior except for lack of knowledge. The one authentic lovely scene on the beach does not redeem this surprisingly annoying read, and that scene's aftermath is written as if he had to stick to a deadline and word count. (For comparison/beauty, read a smilar account/first night scene, early in The Falls, by Joyce Carol Oates: it's superlative.) Also, a substantive editing error in reference to Internet commerce time frame.
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