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335 Reviews
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85 of 92 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Sensitive and sad
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...
Published on 17 Mar. 2008 by Suzie

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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Would have made a good short story
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...
Published on 27 Mar. 2009 by Mr. S. D. Halliday


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4 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars faultless, 14 May 2008
By 
K. R. Aitchison (sheffield uk) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: On Chesil Beach (Paperback)
A perfectly crafted book. A very short book (I read it in one morning, on Salalah beach - very different from Chesil), but a flawless exploration of love, desire, uncertainty and the consequences of decisions.

A very Ian McEwan book, with all that his books think about personal relationships and brooding possibilities of disaster. I was swept away by Atonement and Saturday, which are great novels - but I now see the flaws in them - this I found faultess.
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14 of 28 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Their first time, 3 May 2007
By 
Virginia (Cardiff / Caerdydd) - See all my reviews
This review is from: On Chesil Beach (Hardcover)
"On Chesil Beach" is an introspective work and so I recommend it for readers with patience. Those who like fast-moving plot, I suggest trying the latest thriller. For readers who prefer to delve into psychological and social landscapes, they will find a lot to like in this book.

It paints the conflict of two people in love yet sexually inhibited from consummating their love on their wedding night. McEwan has a detailed style of writing which lends itself to this type of exploration. Even with some minor flaws, I thoroughly enjoyed this book.

I also enjoyed reading "Nexus: A Neo Novel" for its psychological and spiritual insights. It's by two Canadian authors and it seems to have developed a following especially in the UK.
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4 of 9 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A true master but this is not his best..., 31 May 2007
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This review is from: On Chesil Beach (Hardcover)
This is really a novella, not a novel. And Mcwan's mastery of the English language is again on display along with sharp insight into human nature. He brings to life the lives of a newly wed couple sexually inhibited from consummating their love on the night of their wedding. This is a deftly written and insightful story that touched me, though I did not think it as deep as the authors other works.
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5 of 11 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Overhyped, 10 Jan. 2008
This review is from: On Chesil Beach (Hardcover)
What a pointless "novel" this is! It took less than 2 hours to read - I would have given up if it had taken any longer. It was just awful, the characters were ridiculous, as was the situation they found themselves in. The constant unnecessary historical references and ostentatious showing off of research were also annoying. I think even the author had given up on this book, judging by the strangely rushed ending. However, I really didn't care how they ended up! I enjoyed Atonement and Enduring Love, but this just seemed to be some kind of strange literary experiment.
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8 of 17 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Initially dazzling, ultimately a let-down, 28 Aug. 2007
This review is from: On Chesil Beach (Hardcover)
About half-way through reading this, I was telling everybody what a beautifully written short novel it was. The climax of the story is deftly handled, too - but then things start to go wrong. It's hard to feel sympathy for the characters (early 1960's newlyweds Florence and Edward) in their inability to take their relationship forward, and the blurb about "a story of lives transformed by a gesture not made or a word not spoken" is nothing more than psychobabble. Surely it ain't such a revelation that our lives will turn out differently if we make different choices at key moments? Perhaps what it really means is that it would all have turned out OK if the characters had been less hopeless, or if they had decided to go for some chips in Weymouth instead. But the fact that one longs for the characters to illustrate that kind of gumption only serves to illustrate how frustrating this story is.

Despite the purple prose of the central "consummation" scene, the sexual imagery (luxuriant vegetation and crashing waves, ultimately superseded by the sledgehammer metaphor of England's most defiantly arid, stony, desolate beach) is clumsy, and perhaps a tad blokeish. There was some potentially dark and interesting stuff about Florence and her attitude to sex that was hinted at but not developed. Maybe Florence's view could have been more prominent towards the story's decidedly flat ending, too.

I read the book while staying at a hotel just behind Chesil Beach (presumably the inspiration for the setting). Readers wanting to visit and stroll two miles along the beach in the twilight like the characters do, however, should beware - the beach can only be accessed from either end, because it's cut off by the Fleet lagoon for most of its length (the story is set at the Western end, but there's no hotel there, as the author explains in an endnote designed to fend off the pedant). It's genuinely isolated, and exhausting to walk on. The girl on the cover looks like she has walked miles towards the Isle of Portland (the ridge visible in the right background), even further than Florence did in the story (she must have been fit!). Or maybe she was helicoptered in.
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13 of 26 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Dull, 14 Jun. 2007
By 
Ann Shrewsbury "Annie" (Northampton England) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: On Chesil Beach (Hardcover)
Never got into this book...found myself wondering when it would ever pick up. There was no meld with the language and style that he used (which is frankly archaic and very period drama-ish) and the 60's....
The end few pages were the best.
Bad money spent.
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4 of 9 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Hmmmmmm, 7 Nov. 2007
By 
A. Bennedsen "Fufi" (Denmark) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: On Chesil Beach (Hardcover)
I feel really bad about my feelings towards this book. Though written in a beautiful language, I found the book extremely boring. I wanted to shake the young couple, have them react in one way or the other and then when there is a reaction I was just happy that I had almost finished the book.
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1 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars McEwan excels again!, 4 Jan. 2013
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This review is from: On Chesil Beach (Kindle Edition)
A classic and gripping read by Ian McEwan. Well worth the money! Certainly a book to recommend to any avid reader
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4.0 out of 5 stars Four Stars, 18 July 2014
This review is from: On Chesil Beach (Paperback)
Fine
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4 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Another McEwan classic, 22 April 2007
By 
D. Massey "fraxi" (West Midlands) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: On Chesil Beach (Hardcover)
This is such a very sad read. It's a keenly observed book about marriage and virginity in 1962. You just know it will finish tragically, and when the ending comes, it will overwhelm you. Buy it. Buy it. Buy it.
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On Chesil Beach
On Chesil Beach by Ian McEwan (Paperback - 3 Jan. 2008)
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