December 30, 2018
On Chesil Beach
On Chesil Beach by Ian McEwan
2007 Nan A. Talese
Finished on March 19, 2018
Rating: 2/5 (Fair)
It is July 1962. Florence is a talented musician who dreams of a career on the concert stage and of the perfect life she will create with Edward, an earnest young history student at University College of London, who unexpectedly wooed and won her heart. Newly married that morning, both virgins, Edward and Florence arrive at a hotel on the Dorset coast. At dinner in their rooms they struggle to suppress their worries about the wedding night to come. Edward, eager for rapture, frets over Florence’s response to his advances and nurses a private fear of failure, while Florence’s anxieties run deeper: she is overcome by sheer disgust at the idea of physical contact, but dreads disappointing her husband when they finally lie down together in the honeymoon suite.
Ian McEwan has caught with understanding and compassion the innocence of Edward and Florence at a time when marriage was presumed to be the outward sign of maturity and independence. On Chesil Beach is another masterwork from McEwan—a story of lives transformed by a gesture not made or a word not spoken.
I have read several books by Ian McEwan and decided to pick up a copy of On Chesil Beach at my library after learning that the movie was soon to be released on Netflix. I quickly fell into this novel late one evening, not wanting to set it down and go to sleep, but finally did. Sadly, the book started off nicely, but wound up being a dud. I didn't care for either of the characters and had to force myself to finish, which wasn't difficult since it's such a short book. Had it been any longer, I probably would have called it quits. I'm not sure why I continue to read this author's works since I've only really loved one of his novels. Next time I'm inclined to read another book by McEwan, I'll save myself some frustration and just re-read Atonement.