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On Chesil Beach by [McEwan, Ian]
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On Chesil Beach Kindle Edition

3.7 out of 5 stars 374 customer reviews

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Length: 226 pages Word Wise: Enabled Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled
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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

Tim Adams, Observer

`[Exhibits] McEwan's brilliance as a novelist'

Product details

  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • File Size: 807 KB
  • Print Length: 226 pages
  • Publisher: Vintage Digital (20 Jan. 2010)
  • Sold by: Amazon Media EU S.à r.l.
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0099512793
  • ISBN-13: 978-0099512790
  • ASIN: B00354YA4U
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Enabled
  • Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled
  • Average Customer Review: 3.7 out of 5 stars 374 customer reviews
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #20,426 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
It's true what they say, beautiful things do come in small packages. 'On Chesil Beach' is an exquisite little work of art of many layers. Unlike other readers, I am perfectly content with its size (easier to force on my students, they invariably grumble at the sight of large books!) Yes, the final pages do go on for a bit and seem disjointed from the rest (and scope) of the story, until the very, very end when we finally get it - and realize that every addition which seemed superfluous was in fact necessary. Although it's a heart-breaker, I will happily read it again and again.

'On Chesil Beach' does a fantastic job at transcending its time, at making a point which remains just as valid years and years later. Once we finish reading and start thinking, we realize this obviously is a sad story about lack of communication, NOT lack of sexual experience or lack of love as such. The 1960s setting, the virgin newlyweds and their tale, are here to subtly and masterfully develop an altogether different, much grander theme: the way we seem to avoid at all cost telling the truth about our own feelings, and the repercussions of such avoidance. Nothing to do with the 1960s; today we can all still relate to this, we're all still doing it in 2015 and we will be doing the same probably for generations to come - because we've been brought up in the 'stiff upper lip' tradition, or because we're afraid we'll to look foolish, or hurt the other person; or because we simply don't know how to communicate effectively. That's why, for me, 'On Chesil Beach' packs such a complex punch. It shows how easy it is to misunderstand and mis-communicate, even in the most loving of relationships (thus, by extension, it also questions the definition of love...
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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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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Ian McEwan has reached the status of a British John Updike or Philip Roth, where the publication of each new book is a notable event. It is an appropriate accolade for a writer who has matured from enfant terrible to elder statesman: from edgy stories of sexual irregularity and dramatic violence, to richer investigations of the social and psychological makeup of a people.

Chesil Beach in Dorset is famous to any geography student as being an example of the phenomenon of longshore drift, and drift of a sort is what McEwan's new book is about. It tells the story of Edward and Florence, and their first night of marriage in July 1962 (the year before "sexual intercourse began," as Philip Larkin told us), staying in a hotel near "Chesil Beach with its infinite shingle."

Both are virgins: Edward has first night nerves, and Florence worries that by marrying him she has brought on the physical intimacy she most fears. What McEwan does terribly well is to invigorate old staples that we thought we knew, such as Edward's reciting of political analysis to (as Alan Partridge would put it) `keep the wolf from the door,' which seems both fresh and funny.

Less successful are the pieces of the couple's past which McEwan gives us: the scenes set before they met seem particularly unnecessary, and have the air of having been spliced in later to fill the book out from story to novella. And there is a danger of imbalance, when the meticulously detailed account in the first nine-tenths of the book suddenly switches pace and rushes to a conclusion. Overall, On Chesil Beach is more Amsterdam than Atonement.
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