The Fictioning Horror Sale
 
 

Recently Viewed clear list


Interviews | September 2, 2014

Jill Owens: IMG David Mitchell: The Powells.com Interview



David MitchellDavid Mitchell's newest mind-bending, time-skipping novel may be his most accomplished work yet. Written in six sections, one per decade, The Bone... Continue »
  1. $21.00 Sale Hardcover add to wish list

    The Bone Clocks

    David Mitchell 9781400065677

spacer
Qualifying orders ship free.
$14.00
New Trade Paper
Ships in 1 to 3 days
Add to Wishlist
Qty Store Section
22 Local Warehouse Literature- A to Z
13 Remote Warehouse Literature- A to Z

On Chesil Beach

by

On Chesil Beach Cover

 

 

Reading Group Guide

1. What do the novel's opening lines tell us about Edward and Florence? How did your perceptions of them change throughout the subsequent pages? What details did you eventually know about them that they never fully revealed to one another?

2. Is Edward's libido truly the primary reason he proposes marriage, or were other factors involved (perhaps ones he did not even admit to himself)? Are relationships harmed or helped by cultural restrictions against sex before marriage? Would this marriage have taken place if the couple had met when birth control pills were no longer just a rumor?

3. Edward replays the words “with my body I thee worship” in his mind. What might have been the intention in including that line when this version of the marriage ceremony was written? How does it make Edward feel?

4. Ian McEwan describes the novel's time period as an era when youth was not glorified but adulthood was. We are also told that Edward was born in 1940, while his parents contemplated possible outcomes of the war with Germany. At what point did Edward and Florence's solemnity become viewed as old-fashioned? What contributed to that shift? What are your recollections, or those shared by relatives who lived it, of the emerging youth culture of the late 1960s and '70s?

5. Were Florence and Edward incompatible in ways beyond sexual ones? What do their difficulties in bed say about their relationship altogether? Or is sex an isolated aspect of a marriage?

6. Chapter two describes how Florence and Edward met; the first paragraph tells us that they were “too sophisticated to believe in destiny.” How would you characterize the kind of love they developed? What made them believe they were perfect for one another? Are any two people perfect for one another?

7. What did Edward's decision to go to London for college indicate about his goals? What was Florence's dream for her future? Was marriage a greater social necessity for her, as a woman? Would her career as a classical musician necessarily have been sacrificed if she had remained with Edward?

8. Compare Edward's upbringing to Florence's. How did their parents affect their attitudes toward life? How did the limitations of Edward's mother shape his feelings about responsibility and women? Was Florence drawn to her mother's competitiveness?

9. To what extent was the financial gulf between Edward and Florence a source of trouble? How might the relationship have unfolded, particularly during this time period, if Edward, not Florence, had been the spouse with financial security?

10. Chapter four recounts the moment when Edward tells Florence he loves her because she's “square,” not in spite of it. Are their opposing tastes the product of their temperaments or the episodes in their young lives? What is your understanding of her revulsion to sex?

11. Discuss the novel's setting, which forms its title. What is the effect of the creaky hotel McEwan creates, and the crashing permanent waves on a beach where the temperatures are still chilly in June? What does it say about the newlyweds that this is the scene of their wedding night?

12. In the end, Edward explores various “what ifs.” Would their marriage have lasted if he had consented to her request for platonic living arrangements? What are the best ways to predict whether a couple can sustain a marriage?

13. How would Edward and Florence have fared in the twenty-first century? Has the nature of love changed as western society has evolved?

14. The author tells us that the marriage ended because Edward was callous, and that as Florence ran from him, she was at the same time desperately in love with him. Why did Edward respond the way he did? Why was it so difficult for them to be honest about their feelings? How would you have reacted that night?

15. Discuss the structure of On Chesil Beach. What is the effect of reading such a compressed storyline, weaving one night with the years before and after it? How did it shape your reading to see only Edward's point of view in the end? What might Florence's perspective have looked like?

16. In what ways does On Chesil Beach represent a departure for Ian McEwan? In what ways does it enhance the themes in his previous fiction?

What Our Readers Are Saying

Add a comment for a chance to win!
Average customer rating based on 4 comments:

JLB9698, January 1, 2012 (view all comments by JLB9698)
On Chesil Beach is a story of newlyweds whose miscommunication during their honeymoon end up destroying their chance for a life together. McEwan, with his amazing style and prose, shows us that our journey in life can be as fragile as a few words.
Was this comment helpful? | Yes | No
swange, July 2, 2010 (view all comments by swange)
I hated this book. Then I read it again to see if I was missing something-but still found it annoying. I think I was more frustrated than the characters.
Was this comment helpful? | Yes | No
(4 of 8 readers found this comment helpful)
mgreiner1, June 25, 2010 (view all comments by mgreiner1)
McEwan's writing is exquisite. In this case, exquisitely painful, as we wait page after page for the consummation of this marriage. Memories of one's personal awkwardness when entering the sexual realm are inevitable. This book might serve as a call for abstinence with our teenagers, just so they don't have to go through what these people endured.
Was this comment helpful? | Yes | No
(4 of 8 readers found this comment helpful)
View all 4 comments

Product Details

ISBN:
9780307386175
Author:
McEwan, Ian
Publisher:
Anchor Books
Subject:
Literary
Subject:
Married people
Subject:
Intimacy (psychology)
Subject:
Domestic fiction
Subject:
Literature-A to Z
Edition Description:
Trade paper
Publication Date:
20080631
Binding:
TRADE PAPER
Grade Level:
General/trade
Language:
English
Pages:
224
Dimensions:
8.02x5.42x.72 in. .60 lbs.

Other books you might like

  1. Saturday: A Novel
    Used Trade Paper $0.95
  2. A Curious Earth Used Trade Paper $1.95
  3. Amsterdam
    Used Mass Market $5.95
  4. Out Stealing Horses
    Used Trade Paper $3.50
  5. Black Dogs Used Trade Paper $5.95
  6. Divisadero (Vintage International)
    Used Trade Paper $2.95

Related Subjects


Featured Titles » General
Featured Titles » Literature
Featured Titles » Miscellaneous Award Winners
Fiction and Poetry » Literature » A to Z
Fiction and Poetry » Literature » Featured Titles

On Chesil Beach Used Trade Paper
0 stars - 0 reviews
$14.00 In Stock
Product details 224 pages Anchor Books - English 9780307386175 Reviews:
"Staff Pick" by ,

To read McEwan is to be swept away by prose of astonishing precision and power, and to be constantly surprised by the ambition and breadth of his scope.

"Review" 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 , "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 , "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 , "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 , "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 , "[R]eplete with pleasures: keen observations of family dynamics, of English life, of fortune's randomness."
"Review" by , "[P]acks a pretty good wallop....Marvelously realized and treacherously conceived."
"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 , "[T]hough life is never easy, as the narrator reminds us, gorging ourselves on McEwan's impeccable prose is."
"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 , "Breathtaking."
"Synopsis" by , In 1962, Florence and Edward celebrate their wedding in a hotel on the Dorset coast. Yet as they dine, the expectation of their marital duties weighs over them. And unbeknownst to both, the decisions they make this night will resonate throughout their lives. With exquisite prose, Ian McEwan creates in On Chesil Beach a story of lives transformed by a gesture not made or a word not spoken.
spacer
spacer
  • back to top
Follow us on...




Powell's City of Books is an independent bookstore in Portland, Oregon, that fills a whole city block with more than a million new, used, and out of print books. Shop those shelves — plus literally millions more books, DVDs, and gifts — here at Powells.com.