3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
This review is from: On Chesil Beach (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.