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On Chesil Beach Paperback – Deckle Edge, Apr 8 2008
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As powerful as it is slender, Ian McEwan's On Chesil Beach--a gripping rumination on what the pact of marriage really means--is proof that even in this electronic age, few things are as captivating as a good story that's told well.
Laid across five slight chapters, On Chesil Beach begins in the honeymoon suite of Florence and Edward as they hover at the edge of the first-time intimacy that will corroborate, legally and spiritually, the vows they have already exchanged.
But simple sex is not so simple--unknown to Edward, who is delirious with lust, his bride harbors absolute revulsion for the act. Naturally, this is not news to Florence, who nevertheless pledged, before family and community, "With my body I thee worship! That's what you promised today," Edward reminds her at the book's paralyzing climax. "In front of everybody. Don't you realize how disgusting and ridiculous your idea is? And what an insult it is?"
Yet that idea--Florence's preconceived response to the inevitable mess she finds herself in on her wedding night--forms the tale's central question: when we wed, how much of ourselves are we obliged to reveal to our prospective mates?
If that sounds straightforward enough, you can bet a master novelist like McEwan spins it off in a million complex directions, tapping every available emotion. The plight of Florence and Edward resonates deeply long after readers have zoomed through the book's scant 166 pages.
Ironically, part of what makes the book so powerful is McEwan's delicate touch. As he tiptoes through Florence and Edward's respective back stories, we forget he's there, instead focusing on the almost palpable scenes he lays before us. This is storytelling at its most dynamic--vivid, persuasive and completely fluid. Though rendered in figurative watercolors, On Chesil Beach is a tiny, perfect masterpiece as lasting as a canvas infused with oils. --Kim Hughes --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
Praise for Saturday:
“Ian McEwan proves again that there may be no novelist in English better able to sustain the classical virtues of balance and clarity.”
—The Globe and Mail
“Finely wrought and shimmering with intelligence.”
—The New York Times Book Review
“In Saturday, the marvelously gifted Ian McEwan turns a single day into nearly twenty-four hours emblematic of an entire era.”
“Saturday is thoughtful, finely written, rich in detail and analysis, a portrait of a living mind.”
—The Gazette (Montreal)
“[McEwan] remains at the top of his game–assured, accomplished and ambitious. . . . [Saturday] offers something transcendent, impossible to dissect.”
—The Daily Telegraph
“It’s the good writing and the truthful and convincing way of rendering consciousness that makes Ian McEwan’s Saturday so engrossing, keeping me awake like a mystery thriller.”
—Colm Tóibín, The Sunday Times
From the Hardcover edition.
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Top Customer Reviews
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.Read more ›
Troy Parfitt is the author of Why China Will Never Rule the World
Well, it finally does, and the results of the activity help bring the book to a faster, more interesting close, but that's due to the post-carnal chain of events finally making the lead characters address (and run from) their issues, and permits decades of time to be covered in mere sentences.
Most recent customer reviews
Ian is trying to be cute and he fails. I was bored. He could have told the story in a much more exciting way.Published on Feb. 22 2014 by annette
This novel took me by storm. Not so much as I was reading it, but afterwards. "Chesil Beach" is a unique gem among many shiny stones. It glows with authenticity. Read morePublished on July 31 2010 by mocha
Wonderful story, excellent writing, perfect ending. The subtle misunderstandings among people, especially friends -- the plausibility and complexity of it all -- is what made this... Read morePublished on March 28 2010 by Andrew Delong
My feelings about this book are of great indifference. I neither loved it nor hated it. There are aspects that just didn't do it for me - it is a dark story, and seemed to drag... Read morePublished on Aug. 28 2009 by MD
the storytelling is fantastic - but i was in the end quite disappointed as i had hoped the actual story to be richer. i suppose i just did not understand the characters. Read morePublished on Jan. 5 2009 by CeeGeeKay
It is 1962. The story opens with Edward and Florence just married and in their honeymoon sweet eating dinner. They are both nervous, as can be expected of two virgins. Read morePublished on Dec 28 2008 by Teddy