Learn more Shop now Learn more Shop now Shop now Shop now Shop now Learn More Shop now Shop now Learn more Shop Fire Shop Kindle Amazon Music Unlimited for Family Shop now Fitbit



There was a problem filtering reviews right now. Please try again later.

on 10 March 2015
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...) and how easy it is to fall into this trap even if you're otherwise very good with words, ie highly educated like the characters are. So the meanings we can extract from this book go way beyond the confines of its 1960s context and the story itself.

I won't even bother with praise for the superb structure, writing, psychological observation. Ian McEwan at his best.
0Comment| 15 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
on 7 April 2017
An okay read. The writing is elegant, atmospheric - and the wedding night meal served in the bedroom suite is cringingly good. But I expected more. McEwan often uses his characters as vehicles to embody themes and ideas - and for me this rather short novel felt more like a 'list' of ideas, which meant the characters never quite became real enough.
0Comment|Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
on 26 April 2017
Having just read Atonement which I was a little disapporited in Chessil Beach. Very unusual plot which I admired. I felt the ending was inevitable and the couple could have resolved their problems. But maybe that is today and not more difficult in the period of the book.
0Comment|Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
on 22 June 2017
Slight, graphic, painful. McEwan picks a particular moment in the 1960s to explore changes in sexual politics with the emergence of the liberated female and the end of men's dominance of sexual discourse. A fly caught in amber.
0Comment|Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
on 24 May 2017
good if short read
0Comment|Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
on 13 May 2017
Not much of a story. Disappointing.
0Comment|Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
on 15 June 2017
This was another ;book club request so I probably would not have picked it up other wise.
0Comment|Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
on 28 May 2017
Boring,no affinity ,with the characters,slow all the way,then a hurried unsatisfactory ending
0Comment|Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
on 30 March 2017
Beautifully written but left a little deflated.
0Comment|Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
on 27 March 2007
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.

But at its best, McEwan's great achievement, here as in Saturday, is to make the reader feel that nothing could be more important, or urgent, right now than to read about whatever his chosen subject happens to be. In this case, he makes a vital cause out of a transitional period, for two anonymous young people, for a generation, and for a country; the era when "to be young was a social encumbrance, a mark of irrelevance, a faintly embarrassing condition for which marriage was the beginning of the cure," the time when "being childlike was not yet honourable, or in fashion."
0Comment| 46 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse

Need customer service? Click here

Sponsored Links

  (What is this?)