On Chesil Beach by Ian McEwan - Book Review



On Chesil Beach by Ian McEwan - Book Review 

This book is set at the beginning of a new decade, but no ordinary decade this. It is set in the early sixties and so many things are about to change forever. Hairstyles, fashion, art, film, music, architecture, space travel, charismatic young leaders, attitudes to sex and parents and wars, and even the food available in the shops are all about to turn turtle.

Edward is a history student at Oxford University. He decides to attend a CND meeting where he meets Florence on the door. Their lives will never be the same again.

The pill hasn't yet been invented, or if it has, it is not yet generally available. For many people the only way to access sex is via marriage. Edward tells Florence he loves her and proposes. She loves him too; of course she does, and gladly accepts.

On Chesil Beach explores the interaction between a caring and conscientious couple, where, as so often happens, events turn on things left unsaid, as much as on feelings openly discussed.

The book tells the story through a series of flashbacks, and then moves on to the honeymoon set in an imaginary hotel on, yes you've guessed it, Chesil Beach, that strange and spooky eighteen mile long pebble spit set on the south coast of England in west Dorset, where Portland Bill sits ever-present, brooding on the skyline.

On Chesil Beach is only a short book, just five chapters, and as with everything from this author, it is beautifully written and particularly evocative of the time, especially to those baby boomers like me who lived through those momentous years. Coincidentally I lived in a house overlooking Chesil Beach in the early sixties, so the book carried special memories for me, indeed it was why I picked it up in the first place.

If you like your books all neat and tidy with happy endings then maybe this is not the read for you, but if you enjoy gentle books, beautifully written, then I can't recommend it highly enough.


Time for Some Video


Here's Ian McEwan talking about and reading from On Chesil Beach. (Part 1) It's a gentle video too, just as you might expect, but a quality video at that. Enjoy.



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