Ian McEwan – On Chesil Beach
84. On Chesil Beach by Ian McEwan (2007)
Read By: the author.
Length: 4h 30min, although that includes a ~30 min interview with the author (208 pages)
Genre: Literary Fiction
Started: 02 July 2009
Finished: 06 July 2009
Where did it come from? The library.
Why do I have it? I really enjoyed Atonement and wanted to read more of McEwan’s work.
Let’s talk about sex,
love, feelings, and marriage. Or,
in this case… let’s not.
Summary: It’s 1962, and Florence and Edward have just gotten married, and are on their honeymoon. Both are virgins, both are unsure about what happens next, both have wildly divergent opinions about sex (Edward being eager; Florence being totally disinterested and disgusted, but still feeling a sense of obligation). Neither of them, however, is able to communicate their feelings about the matter to the other, and so their wedding night quickly spirals further and further into awkwardness, isolation, and unhappiness.
Review: I’m having a hard time reviewing this book. On the one hand, I understand that it was meant to be more of a literary exercise, and on technical grounds, it succeeds wonderfully – it’s elegantly crafted and flawlessly written. On the other hand, I didn’t particularly enjoy listening to it, in large part because I wasn’t in the mood for “literary exercise” – I wanted a story.
It’s also very hard to enjoy a story when you find both characters to be obnoxious twits who you just want to shake by the shoulders while yelling “Just TALK TO HIM/HER, already, GOD!” And yes, I get that the fact that they couldn’t talk to each other was kind of the point of the book, but that didn’t stop it from being annoying. The resultant awkwardness was certainly recognizable (how often do we really talk totally openly about sex, even nowadays?), and familiar enough to make reading about it uncomfortable. While literature that makes you uncomfortable certainly has its place, and there are certainly tons of folks out there who can and do appreciate this book for its meditative musings and meticulous tone, it just wasn’t what I wanted to be listening to. 2.5 out of 5 stars.
Recommendation: I can recommend this book for aspiring writers as an excellent look at the process of crafting story, scene, characters and conflict. For someone who’s just looking to get lost in an enjoyable read, however, they’d be best served looking elsewhere.
Other Reviews: Everyday Reads, Caribousmom, Boston Bibliophile, 1 More Chapter, Everyday I Write the Book, Book Nook Club, Leafing Through Life, ReadingAdventures, BookLit, Reading Matters, Asylum, Vulpes Libris, Stuck in a Book, My Fluttering Heart
Have you reviewed this book? Leave a comment with the link and I’ll add it in.
First Line: They were young, uneducated, and both virgins on this, their wedding night, and they lived in a time when conversation about sexual difficulties was plainly impossible. But it is never easy.