Friday, June 7, 2013

On Chesil Beach; Ian McEwan

Title: On Chesil Beach
Author: Ian McEwan
Publication Year:  2007
Publisher:  Random House Audio
Reader:  author - (very good)
Source: library
Setting: Dorset coast, England
Date Completed: June - 2013
Rating: 4.5/5

INTRO - "They were young, educated and both virgins on their wedding night, and they lived in a time when conversation about sexual differences was plainly impossible...."

Prior to starting this audio book, I really had no idea what it was about, as I had downloaded it to my iPod when it was first released in 2007 and hadn't thought much about it since.  When I first started listening to it, I knew immediately that I would be wishing that I hadn't waited so long to try this one.  (5) hours and fewer than 200 pages, I really liked it.

The story takes place in 1962, a time when it wasn't all that unusual for women and even some men to be virgins when they married --Florence Ponting and Edward Mayhew are such a couple.  They come from very different backgrounds, Edward is a historian and the son of a school master and, Florence is a lead violinist and the daughter of a wealthy industrialist and professor.  

The couple is honeymooning at the Georgian hotel on "Chesil Beach". While Edward is extremely anxious to consummate their marriage, he is also very worried about pleasing his new bride.  Florence on the other hand, is frightened and almost disgusted about the thought of sex.

'The idea of being touched  "down there", by someone else, even someone she loved, was as repulsive as, say, a surgical procedure on her eye.'

Florence had read the "wedding manual" which outlined what to expect on the wedding night. She knew that first, they would dine and have a special meal, but no way was she prepared for what was to happen later that night.

I wonder if the author intended for this novel to be one that would make some modern day readers laugh? I just couldn't keep the smile off my face at times.  I found the writing to be so well done and even tender at times.  Learning all about the couple, their background, their hopes and their fears made them seem all the more real.  The 60s setting, prior to the sexual revolution, seemed to showcase realistically both sex and class in England during that time.  Another thing I liked was that the author was able to pack a punch in fewer than 200 pages. He was able to show readers that every event in our lives, even something that might seem insignificant at the time, can really affect us for the rest of their lives.

If you haven't read this already, you should try it. I hated to see it end.


  1. This was one of my print favorites a couple of years ago and now I want to 'reread' the audio!

  2. McEwan has been more miss than hit for me but, this book's so short, I'd give it a try.

  3. I will keep this one in mind for the future, because of your review.

  4. I really liked this book, getting to know the the characters but the ending just pi&*ed me off. I know I'm definitely in a minority, though.

  5. I actually enjoyed this one more than some of McEwen's other books, although I have one still waiting on Sparky (Amsterdam) that I hope will be enjoyable. Like Kathy, my experiences with his books have been hit or miss.

    This one did pack a punch, as you say. And it reminded me of those times before the sexual revolution when things were a bit repressed.

  6. I like when I find a book in my library that's been there for a while and it turns out to be a gem. It's like an unexpected treat.

  7. I loved this too. As you say, it's quite a feat for an author to pack a punch in less than 200 pages.

  8. That one sounds interesting too. My read list just keeps getting longer.

  9. I did read this and I enjoyed it too. It was sad that the misunderstanding and inability to talk about sex set their future together on a disastrous course. Something in the book also made me wonder if she hadn't been molested as a child but it's been several years since I read it and I can't remember what it was.

  10. Believe it or not, I have never read a McEwan novel! I keep meaning to but haven't gotten around to it yet. This one sounds intriguing!


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  11. I liked this one a lot. It was intimate and sometimes uncomfortable to read, but I liked that aspect of it.

  12. I think I have this one hiding around here somewhere. I'll have to keep an eye out.

  13. I'm not sure why I haven't given this one a read, as I loved Atonement and Saturday. However, I did not care for Enduring Love or Amsterdam, so maybe there lies my hesitation. I wound up with a copy of Sweet Tooth, but have yet to read it, either. I see Staci read & loved On Chesil Beach, as well as Joann, so between the three of you, I really should give it a go!


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