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On Chesil Beach Hardcover – 5 Jun 2007


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Product details

  • Hardcover: 203 pages
  • Publisher: Clearway Logistics Phase 2-3; 1st Edition edition (5 Jun. 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1407002317
  • ISBN-13: 978-1407002316
  • ASIN: 0385522401
  • Product Dimensions: 12.7 x 2 x 19.1 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (332 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,508,619 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Ian McEwan is a critically acclaimed author of short stories and novels for adults, as well as The Daydreamer, a children's novel illustrated by Anthony Browne. His first published work, a collection of short stories, First Love, Last Rites, won the Somerset Maugham Award. His novels include The Child in Time, which won the 1987 Whitbread Novel of the Year Award, The Cement Garden, Enduring Love, Amsterdam, which won the 1998 Booker Prize, Atonement, Saturday and On Chesil Beach.

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Review

"Wonderful...exquisite...devastating" Independent on Sunday "On Chesil Beach is more than an event. It is a masterpiece" Times Literary Supplement "Superb... The protagonists have everything to lose, and their faltering journey towards a point of no return is conjured into life my McEwan with irresistible subtlety, tact and force" Financial Times "Exquisitely crafted" Evening Standard "Written with a fierce pursuit of the truth and an utterly modern self-awareness, what a confidant tour de force this turns out to be" Sunday Express "This is McEwan's mature style, one we have come to recognise from Atonement and Saturday. It is a polished, civilised style, and very distant from the shock tactics of his early work... McEwan brings Florence and Edward touchingly alive for us; and their seriousness, their idealism, and their desire for love draw us towards them" Guardian "A master feat of concentration in both senses of the word" Sunday Times "One of our greatest living writers. Many Easter weekends and train journeys will be enlivened by a compelling novella" Herald "To commend an author for being reminiscent of Edith Wharton is a compliment that this reviewer reserves for a select few. Yet with On Chesil Beach, Ian McEwan has earnt it" Telegraph "It is a masterpiece. The very idea that informs it, fascinating and unfamiliar, is masterly" TLS "A didactic, ironic novella of great accomplishment and calculated ambition. Structurally and linguistically, it is a triumph...intriguingly compassionate" Prospect "It is a measure of McEwan's artistry that he is able here both to linger in the recording of sensuous particularities and at the same time to deliver the satisfactions of plot we are accustomed to deriving from his fiction" Time Out, Book of the Week "McEwan shares with his fellow English novelist Jim Crace not only an interest in history but in finding a style in prose that is slow-moving, yet compelling, at times stilted and dry, and then suddenly sharp and precise" London Review of Books "The protagonists of On Chesil Beach have everything to lose, and their faltering journey towards a point of no return is conjured into life by McEwan with irresistible subtlety, tact and force" Scotsman "The book is steeped in lost hopes and disappointments, with each sentence as powerful as a Larkin poem. I didn't know a British novelist could still be this good" Express --This text refers to the Paperback edition.

Book Description

The Sunday Times bestseller. --This text refers to the Paperback edition.

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Customer Reviews

3.7 out of 5 stars

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Mr. S. D. Halliday on 27 Mar. 2009
Format: Paperback
On Chesil Beach is the first Ian McEwan book I've read. In it he describes a newly married couple's relationship and their struggle to culminate their wedding vows. McEwan maps their relationship up to their marriage: how their intimacy evolved, how they came to love each other, how personal taboos result in their inevitable repulsion.

Mostly, McEwan's prose is direct: it cuts you, sews you back up, then slices the sutures to expose the wound. Occasionally though his attempts to re-slice don't succeed - you get the sense a medical intern is fumbling with your wound and bungling the job, rather than having a doctor performing exact surgery.

I am thankful the book is short. I think it could have been shorter. McEwan, though developing the characters a bit, does not develop Flo and Ed as fully as I would have expected from a novel. If he intended to write spare prose, to be cutting, then this book could have been a lengthy short story in a collection, rather than a short novel. That said, I still enjoyed it and don't lament having read it as some reviewers did.
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85 of 92 people found the following review helpful By Suzie on 17 Mar. 2008
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This short book is a sensitive exploration of the consequences of thoughts not spoken and actions that are misunderstood. The fears and uncertainties at the centre of the novella might seem incomprehensible to younger readers, although deep down they may be as prevalent today as they were in the '50s and '60s.

As with all good short stories, the book is a snapshot of a few hours in the lives of its main characters, Florence and Edward. interspersed with flashbacks into their pasts, and how they met and fell in love. The writer alternates between viewpoints, so that the reader is privy to the build-up of misinterpretations that leads inexorably to the denouement. Such is Ian McEwan's skill as a writer that, despite so short an acquaintance with the young lovers, I really felt for them, and longed for something to release them from their tongue-tied misery and guide them to a happier conclusion.

McEwan is a master of the English language. His prose flows through the feelings and uncertainties of his characters, capturing every nuance of sensitivity. My only criticism is the last chapter. The book would perhaps have been stronger if the ending had been left in the air. The frenetic rush through another forty years left a feeling of breathlessness, although it did serve to underline the futility and waste that was all too avoidable - the hints and opportunities were there, but Florence and Edward were too young and naïve to realise their importance or the implications of ignoring them.

What remains after finishing the book is a sense of sadness and loss, but this is no deterrent to reading it. I loved it. Buy it and see what you think. Just don't expect a punchy story. Instead be prepared for a feast of sensitivities and emotions.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Craobh Rua VINE VOICE on 7 Sept. 2012
Format: Paperback
Ian McEwan, born in 1948, is an English novelist and a devout atheist. He has a big reputation, and counts the Booker Prize - won for "Amsterdam" in 1998 - amongst his awards. "On Chesil Beach" was shortlisted for the 2007 Booker but, despite being the raging hot favourite, lost out to "The Gathering" by Anne Enright.

The book opens in July 1962, on the evening of Edward Mayhew and Florence Ponting's wedding. Having married that afternoon in Oxford - and, obviously, not wanting to hang about - they've travelled down the Dorset coast to begin their honeymoon. Sitting having dinner, they're both very nervous about their first night together. (Being 1962, they're still virgins). Although Edward's largely looking forward to it, he's nervous about being a little premature. Florence, on the other hand, is absolutely dreading it - although she does love Edward, the thought of having sex leaves her panic-stricken and feeling sick. As their wedding night moves forward, and with disaster apparently looming, their separate lives and the history of their relationship is told in flashback.

Short, with some nice passages - but some of the fawning reviews I've read are a bigger work of fiction that the book itself. It's full of wasted opportunities - I couldn't help thinking McEwan had simply focused on the wrong section of his characters' lives. Edward's mother, Florence's relationship with her father, their lives after the wedding day - there was so much that, properly developed, could have improved the book no end. Florence and Edward themselves were very poorly developed, and were little more than cliches at times. In spite of what the blurb claims, it's not wonderful, exquisite or devastating : it's a very ordinary book, is well short of amazing and it left me with the impression that McEwan was just going through the motions. 2007 must've been a thin year if this got nominated for the Booker.
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21 of 23 people found the following review helpful By M. G. Wilson on 13 Feb. 2008
Format: Paperback
McEwan handles this tragic, doomed love affair beautifully: the awkwardness; the rapture; the misunderstanding; the fumbling; the devotion. Yet the final coda, telescoping 'the rest of their life' into seven pages, seems almost to be notes for a longer work that the author decided not to complete.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By DubaiReader VINE VOICE on 28 Jun. 2008
Format: Hardcover
This was, thankfully, a short concise little book, though it does manage to meander in parts. It is because it had the sense to be short and sweet that I gave it 4 rather than 3 stars. (7 out of 10).

Edward and Florence are newly weds at the beginning of the 60's. Sex was still a taboo subject and sex before marriage was not yet the norm. The fears and preconceptions of the wedding night had built up to a pitch. Both parties had concerns but particularly Florence who had little more than a basic 'guide book' on the subject.
How they dealt with the situation is interspersed with gradual details of their restricted pasts to explain how such a relationship had evolved. As we get to know the characters we also progress through the evening and its denouement.

This is the era just prior to the contraceptive pill and 'free love'. I wonder if many of the book's critics were perhaps too young to grasp how huge the changes were that came about at the end of this decade.
We discussed this book at a (mixed) book group, many of whom vouched for the reality of the situation.
Living in Dubai, I would also comment that many other cultures would still be experiencing such First Nights and perhaps the book is not as dated as it might at first seem.
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