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On Chesil Beach: A Novel

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On Chesil Beach: A Novel Cover

ISBN13: 9780385522403
ISBN10: 0385522401
Condition: Standard
Dustjacket: Standard
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Awards

The Rooster 2008 Morning News Tournament of Books Nominee

Review-A-Day

"It's a bit voyeuristic. Borderline pervy. And if McEwan wasn't so good at building tension, it'd be incredibly dull....But coming off the heels of his highly praised and 'important' novels like Atonement and Saturday, On Chesil Beach just feels light....Where are the big ideas? The literary ambition? Chalk it up as an amuse-bouche, a good summer read, before his next big one." Buddy Kite, Esquire (read the entire Esquire review)

Synopses & Reviews

Publisher Comments:

A novel of remarkable depth and poignancy from one of the most acclaimed writers of our time.

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.

Review:

"[An] achingly beautiful narrative....Conventional in construction and realistic in its representation of addled psychology, the novel is ingenious for its limited but deeply resonant focus." Booklist (Starred Review)

Review:

"Subtle, witty, rueful and sometimes heartrending, On Chesil Beach coalesces these perceptions into a novel that is a master feat of concentration in both senses of the word." Peter Kemp, The Sunday Times (London)

Review:

"McEwan brings Florence and Edward touchingly alive for us; and their seriousness, their idealism, and their desire for love draw us towards them." Natasha Walter, The Guardian

Review:

"After two big, ambitious novels...McEwan has inexplicably produced a small, sullen, unsatisfying story that possesses none of those earlier books' emotional wisdom, narrative scope or lovely specificity of detail....[A] smarmy portrait of two incomprehensible and unlikable people." Michiko Kakutani, The New York Times

Review:

"A fine book, homing in with devastating precision on a kind of Englishness which McEwan understands better than any other living writer, the Englishness of deceit, evasion, repression and regret.... McEwan has combined the intensity of his narrowly focused early work with his more expansive later flowering to devastating effect." Justin Cartwright, The Independent (London)

Review:

"The story unfolds in a perfect manner, withholding now and then for effect, even omitting sometimes, with the result that On Chesil Beach is not only a wonderful read but also perhaps that rarest of things: a perfect novel." San Francisco Chronicle

Review:

"On Chesil Beach is more than an event. It is a masterpiece. The very idea that informs it, fascinating and unfamiliar, is masterly." Karl Miller, Times Literary Supplement

Review:

"[T]hough life is never easy, as the narrator reminds us, gorging ourselves on McEwan's impeccable prose is." Miami Herald

Review:

"If McEwan's first chapters generally ought to be sent, like Albert Pujols's bats, to the Hall of Fame, then we may agree that in this instance his first sentence is a first chapter of its own." Jonathan Lethem, New York Times

Review:

"McEwan's stories are introspective and, at times, told at a wondering distance....The most moving section of the book is the final, fifth section in which the future is revealed in its entire could-have, should-have splendor." Denver Post

Review:

"On Chesil Beach, a novella-length story, is a short, sad, slight book about anxiety, inexperience, hope and the triumph of failure. Vintage McEwan." Chicago Sun-Times

Review:

"[P]acks a pretty good wallop....Marvelously realized and treacherously conceived." Boston Globe

Review:

"McEwan's writing is as sharp, as darkly humorous, as psychologically penetrating as it's ever been." Cleveland Plain Dealer

Review:

"[R]eplete with pleasures: keen observations of family dynamics, of English life, of fortune's randomness." Los Angeles Times

Synopsis:

A novel of remarkable depth and poignancy, McEwan has caught with understanding and compassion the innocence of a newly married couple — both virgins — in 1962, when marriage was presumed to be the outward sign of maturity and independence.

Synopsis:

The year is 1962. Florence, the daughter of a successful businessman and an aloof Oxford academic, is a talented musician. She dreams of a career on the concert stage and of the perfect life she will create with Edward, the earnest young history student she met by chance and who unexpectedly wooed and won her heart. Edward grew up in the country on the outskirts of Oxford, where his father, the headmaster of the local school, struggled to keep the household together and his mother, brain-damaged in an accident, drifted in a world of her own. Edward's native intelligence, coupled with a longing to experience the excitement and intellectual fervor of the city, had taken him to University College in London. Falling in love with the accomplished, shy, and sensitive Florence — and having his affections returned with equal intensity — has utterly changed his life. Their marriage, they believe, will bring them happiness and the confidence to fulfill their true destinies. The glowing promise of the future, however, cannot totally mask their worries about the wedding night. Edward, who has had little experience with women, frets about his sexual prowess. Florence's anxieties run deeper: she is overcome by conflicting emotions and a fear of the moment she will surrender herself to her husband in their honeymoon suite.

From the precise and intimate depiction of two young lovers eager to rise above the hurts and confusion of the past, to the touching story of how their unexpressed misunderstandings and resentments shape the rest of their lives, On Chesil Beach is an extraordinary exploration of how the entire course of a life can be changed — by a gesture not made or a word not spoken.

About the Author

Ian McEwan is the bestselling author of more than ten books, including the novels Saturday; Atonement, winner of the National Book Critics Circle Award and the W. H. Smith Literary Award; The Comfort of Strangers and Black Dogs, both shortlisted for the Booker Prize; Amsterdam, winner of the Booker Prize; and The Child in Time, winner of the Whitbread Award, as well as the story collections First Love, Last Rites, winner of the Somerset Maugham Award, and In Between the Sheets. He lives in London.

What Our Readers Are Saying

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Average customer rating based on 6 comments:

ReadingMathTeacher, July 20, 2009 (view all comments by ReadingMathTeacher)
I picked up this novel because I adore McEwan's _Atonement_; this novel certainly proved itself as well. The time changes that McEwan intertwines throughout the book kept me reading for hours, just wondering how the couple's fateful wedding night might end. The novel simultaneously gives us glimpses into the private lives and thoughts of its characters and insight to England in the early twentieth century. The end was superb -- and in true McEwan fashion, not at all the way I expected it to be.
Was this comment helpful? | Yes | No
(3 of 6 readers found this comment helpful)
Debra22, May 7, 2008 (view all comments by Debra22)
Not an exciting page turner, but the reader becomes immersed in the lives of the 2 main charaters from the first page. Definitely the kind of book that stays with you, as is the case with his other books I have read. Dont expect a fast moving storyline. This is a gradual unfolding of the set of circumstances that have made these two people into the complex characters they are. A compelling read. I'd also recommend reading Tino Georgiou's bestseller--The Fates--highly addictive reading.
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(9 of 18 readers found this comment helpful)
Grady Harp, August 31, 2007 (view all comments by Grady Harp)
'This is how the entire course of a life can be changed - by doing nothing.'

Ian McEwan is a master of atmospheric writing, taking a seemingly isolated incident and building a story around it in a way that the reader completely lives in the moment described by his novel. He selects strange topics and then makes them feel so familiar by comparison to each of our lives that exploring the dense background he paints pulls us in like a strong magnet. Reading McEwan is one of the rare pleasures literature lovers find. Few writers of today can match his quiet, subtle, but bravura technique.

ON CHISEL BEACH is essentially a study of a wedding night, a night when the two characters involved approach the virginal consummation of their marriage with disastrous results. Florence is bright, a gifted violinist, beautiful and fragile in affairs of the heart and senses: she is frigid. Edward, her new husband, is of lower class than she, but has reached a degree of education and overcome some thorny family obstacles to become a young bridegroom longing for his marriage night, a night he blunders with premature ejaculation. McEwan leads into this evening and its subsequent resolution on Chisel Beach with delicate prose, brings us to the topic of climax, and then offers flashes of background of each of his characters that allows us to understand the subsequent course of events 'doing nothing' brings.

In beautiful prose, stunningly elegant writing, and rich observations of life in the early 1960s with all that the decade of 'enlightenment' and changes in England and the world produced, Ian McEwan has created another masterpiece. Highly recommended. Grady Harp
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(22 of 37 readers found this comment helpful)
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Product Details

ISBN:
9780385522403
Subtitle:
A Novel
Author:
McEwan, Ian
Publisher:
Nan A. Talese
Subject:
Literary
Subject:
Married people
Subject:
Intimacy (psychology)
Subject:
Dorset, england
Copyright:
Edition Number:
1st
Publication Date:
June 2007
Binding:
Hardback
Grade Level:
General/trade
Language:
English
Pages:
208
Dimensions:
7.80x4.44x1.06 in. .61 lbs.

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On Chesil Beach: A Novel Used Hardcover
0 stars - 0 reviews
$5.50 In Stock
Product details 208 pages Random House - English 9780385522403 Reviews:
"Review A Day" by , "It's a bit voyeuristic. Borderline pervy. And if McEwan wasn't so good at building tension, it'd be incredibly dull....But coming off the heels of his highly praised and 'important' novels like Atonement and Saturday, On Chesil Beach just feels light....Where are the big ideas? The literary ambition? Chalk it up as an amuse-bouche, a good summer read, before his next big one." (read the entire Esquire review)
"Review" by , "[An] achingly beautiful narrative....Conventional in construction and realistic in its representation of addled psychology, the novel is ingenious for its limited but deeply resonant focus."
"Review" by , "Subtle, witty, rueful and sometimes heartrending, On Chesil Beach coalesces these perceptions into a novel that is a master feat of concentration in both senses of the word."
"Review" by , "McEwan brings Florence and Edward touchingly alive for us; and their seriousness, their idealism, and their desire for love draw us towards them."
"Review" by , "After two big, ambitious novels...McEwan has inexplicably produced a small, sullen, unsatisfying story that possesses none of those earlier books' emotional wisdom, narrative scope or lovely specificity of detail....[A] smarmy portrait of two incomprehensible and unlikable people."
"Review" by , "A fine book, homing in with devastating precision on a kind of Englishness which McEwan understands better than any other living writer, the Englishness of deceit, evasion, repression and regret.... McEwan has combined the intensity of his narrowly focused early work with his more expansive later flowering to devastating effect."
"Review" by , "The story unfolds in a perfect manner, withholding now and then for effect, even omitting sometimes, with the result that On Chesil Beach is not only a wonderful read but also perhaps that rarest of things: a perfect novel."
"Review" by , "On Chesil Beach is more than an event. It is a masterpiece. The very idea that informs it, fascinating and unfamiliar, is masterly."
"Review" by , "[T]hough life is never easy, as the narrator reminds us, gorging ourselves on McEwan's impeccable prose is."
"Review" by , "If McEwan's first chapters generally ought to be sent, like Albert Pujols's bats, to the Hall of Fame, then we may agree that in this instance his first sentence is a first chapter of its own."
"Review" by , "McEwan's stories are introspective and, at times, told at a wondering distance....The most moving section of the book is the final, fifth section in which the future is revealed in its entire could-have, should-have splendor."
"Review" by , "On Chesil Beach, a novella-length story, is a short, sad, slight book about anxiety, inexperience, hope and the triumph of failure. Vintage McEwan."
"Review" by , "[P]acks a pretty good wallop....Marvelously realized and treacherously conceived."
"Review" by , "McEwan's writing is as sharp, as darkly humorous, as psychologically penetrating as it's ever been."
"Review" by , "[R]eplete with pleasures: keen observations of family dynamics, of English life, of fortune's randomness."
"Synopsis" by , A novel of remarkable depth and poignancy, McEwan has caught with understanding and compassion the innocence of a newly married couple — both virgins — in 1962, when marriage was presumed to be the outward sign of maturity and independence.
"Synopsis" by , The year is 1962. Florence, the daughter of a successful businessman and an aloof Oxford academic, is a talented musician. She dreams of a career on the concert stage and of the perfect life she will create with Edward, the earnest young history student she met by chance and who unexpectedly wooed and won her heart. Edward grew up in the country on the outskirts of Oxford, where his father, the headmaster of the local school, struggled to keep the household together and his mother, brain-damaged in an accident, drifted in a world of her own. Edward's native intelligence, coupled with a longing to experience the excitement and intellectual fervor of the city, had taken him to University College in London. Falling in love with the accomplished, shy, and sensitive Florence — and having his affections returned with equal intensity — has utterly changed his life. Their marriage, they believe, will bring them happiness and the confidence to fulfill their true destinies. The glowing promise of the future, however, cannot totally mask their worries about the wedding night. Edward, who has had little experience with women, frets about his sexual prowess. Florence's anxieties run deeper: she is overcome by conflicting emotions and a fear of the moment she will surrender herself to her husband in their honeymoon suite.

From the precise and intimate depiction of two young lovers eager to rise above the hurts and confusion of the past, to the touching story of how their unexpressed misunderstandings and resentments shape the rest of their lives, On Chesil Beach is an extraordinary exploration of how the entire course of a life can be changed — by a gesture not made or a word not spoken.

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