It is June 1962. In a hotel on the Dorset coast, overlooking Chesil Beach, Edward and Florence, who got married that morning, are sitting down to dinner in their room. Neither is entirely able to suppress their anxieties about the wedding night to come..."On Chesil Beach" is another masterwork from Ian McEwan - a story about how the entire course of a life can be changed by a gesture not made or a word not spoken.
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Such is Ian McEwan's genius that, despite rambling nature walks and the naming of birds, his subject matter remains hermetically sealed in the hearts of two people.
It is 1962 when Edward and Florence, 23 and 22 respectively, marry and repair to a hotel on the Dorset coast for their honeymoon. They are both virgins, both apprehensive about what's next and in Florence's case, utterly and blindly terrified and repelled by the little she knows. Through a tense dinner in their room, because Florence has decided that the weather is not fine enough to dine on the terrace, they are attended by two local boys acting as waiters. The cameo appearances of the boys and Edward and Florence's parents and siblings serve only to underline the emotional isolation of the two principals. Florence says of herself: "...she lacked some simple mental trick that everyone else had, a mechanism so ordinary that no one ever mentioned it, an immediate sensual connection to people and events, and to her own needs and desires...."
They are on the cusp of a rather ordinary marital undertaking in differing states of readiness, willingness and ardor. McEwan says: "Where he merely suffered conventional first-night nerves, she experienced a visceral dread, a helpless disgust as palpable as seasickness." Edward, having denied himself even the release of self-pleasuring for a week, in order to be tip-top for Florence, is mentally pawing the ground. His sensitivity keeps him from being obvious, but he is getting anxious. Florence, on the other hand, knows that she is not capable of the kind of arousal that will make any of this easy. She has held Edward off for a year, and now the reckoning is upon her.
McEwan is the master of the defining moment, that place and time when, once it has taken place, nothing will ever be the same after it. It does not go well and Florence flees the room. "As she understood it, there were no words to name what had happened, there existed no shared language in which two sane adults could describe such events to each other." Edward eventually follows her and they have a poignant and painful conversation where accusations are made, ugly things are said and roads are taken from which, in the case of these two, the way back cannot be found. Late in Edward's life he realizes: "Love and patience--if only he had them both at once--would surely have seen them both through." This beautifully told sad story could have been conceived and written only by Ian McEwan. --Valerie RyanAbout the Author:
Ian McEwan is the author of two collections of stories and ten previous novels, including Enduring Love, Amsterdam, for which he won the Booker Prize in 1998, Atonement and Saturday.
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Book Description Jonathan Cape, 2007. Hardcover. Book Condition: New. Bookseller Inventory # DADAX0224081187
Book Description Jonathan Cape. Hardcover. Book Condition: New. 0224081187 New Condition. Bookseller Inventory # NEW4.0094815
Book Description Jonathan Cape, 2007. Hardcover. Book Condition: New. Dust Jacket Condition: As New. 1st Edition. Brand new and unread. Signed by Ian McEwan. Very rare. You won't find an unread signed first edition in this condition anywhere. There is some slight yellowing to the pages and very slight creasing to the dust jacket but other than that it's mint. Signed by Author(s). Bookseller Inventory # ABE-13732395985
Book Description London: Jonathan Cape/ London Review Bookshop, 2007. Hardcover. Book Condition: New. 1st Edition. Hardcover: patterned paper covered boards, quarter bound in blue-gray leather. Top edge dark blue. In matching blue-gray cloth slipcase. Designed by Andrew Stilwell. No. XLVI of only 50 copies thus, numbered and SIGNED by the author on the limitation page. Mint. (Delivery Confirmation number sent for domestic orders.). Signed by Author(s). Bookseller Inventory # 38716