Wednesday, September 9, 2015

On Chesil Beach

A really talented writer can pack an entire world into a very few pages.  This is exactly what the gifted Ian McEwan has done in his short novel On Chesil Beach, published in 2007.

When we first meet Edward and Florence they are a young couple who have just been married hours before and are off on their honeymoon at Chesil Beach.  Their fumbling sexual dysfunction and psychological baggage cause them to have a disastrous wedding night which has a catastrophic effect on the rest of their lives.

After reading this, the reader is totally immersed in the world of a young intellectual English couple in the early 1960s.  In a few short pages(the novel is only 166 pages), we learn all about Edward and Florence's childhood and their courtship and hangups.  Edward's father is a school headmaster who has to take care of his brain damaged wife and his three children.  Florence's mother is an emotionally cold Oxford philosophy professor who would rather read Plato than be with her children.  There are subtle clues that Florence may have been sexually abused by her father.  (I didn't pick up on this until I started reading reviews of the book online.  After being pointed out to me, I now see the clues in the novel.  Was Florence molested by her father?  Maybe.  Maybe not.  The reader will have to decide).

Anyway, I can't say too much about this intriguing little story or it will give away too much.  But On Chesil Beach is definitely a great read.

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