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On Chesil Beach

3.52  ·  Rating Details  ·  45,663 Ratings  ·  4,866 Reviews
As powerful as it is slender, Ian McEwan's On Chesil Beach--a gripping rumination on what the pact of marriage really means--is proof that even in this electronic age, few things are as captivating as a good story that's told well.

Laid across five slight chapters, On Chesil Beach begins in the honeymoon suite of Florence and Edward as they hover at the edge of the first-t
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Hardcover, 176 pages
Published April 3rd 2007 by Knopf Canada
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Popular Answered Questions

Colette O'Connor She has never experienced sexual attraction to anyone, which is the definition of asexual (and I should know because I am too)!

I also noted the hints…more
She has never experienced sexual attraction to anyone, which is the definition of asexual (and I should know because I am too)!

I also noted the hints of childhood abuse, but while this could account for her disgust about sex, it wouldn't explain her orientation. After all, most people who are abused as children still experience sexual attraction, even if they may have difficulty with sex and relationships. (less)
Jean One motif could be the black sand strand of Chesil Beach leading indefinitely into the future.
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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brian
Sep 09, 2008 brian rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
i read this book in one sitting, on a plane from l.a. to nyc, and it just knocked my socks off. and i came up with a scenerio: imagine if i was flying cross country for some kind of mcewanesque purpose … suppose last time i had been in new york I had met a girl, had spent only a few hours with her, but came back changed. i walked around los angeles buzzed, different, everything slightly altered, colored with that feeling… alright, yeah, it sounds stupid, but go with me (and mcewan) on this. what ...more
Sarah
Sep 17, 2007 Sarah rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: students of literature, dirty old men
The first thing you should know about this book is that, like the other Ian McEwan books I’ve read, it is about the most uncomfortable, awkward, and squirmy thing you’ll ever read. Don’t believe me? What if I told you that the book – which is 200 pages long – only covers about two hours of time: the first two hours of a newlywed couple’s honeymoon in which they fumble to consummate their marriage? And that both of them have very embarrassing sexual dysfunctions?

Well, that’s what the book is abo
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Jason Pettus
Mar 24, 2008 Jason Pettus rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Councillor
Most people have already heard of Ian McEwan's presumable masterpiece Atonement, but many of his other novels have remained underrated ever since. On Chesil Beach is a simple love story about two opposing souls - but it is no love story in a typical way. In this short book, Ian McEwan reverses the love story and tells it backwards from their wedding night, allowing those events described to find a climax which might take them into a future with each other or separate them forever.

In the beginnin
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Cecily
This deceptively light novella describes the events of Florence and Edward’s disastrous honeymoon night in 1962, interspersed with details of their childhoods and courtship to suggest how those influenced what happened. It is clinical and understated from the start: “The wedding... had gone well” and the “weather... not perfect but entirely adequate” and continues in the bedroom with detailed descriptions of physical sensations of skin, muscle, and even individual hairs, “stroking... for more th ...more
Darwin8u
Feb 08, 2016 Darwin8u rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2016
"...being in love was not a steady state, but a matter of fresh surges or waves, and he was experiencing one now."
-- Ian McEwan, On Chesil Beach

description

Almost no one can write about sex well in my opinion. You've got your erotic writers, fine, if your need for arousal and release comes from text rather than pictures or actual lovers. There are certainly millions of toss-n-tug novels that can certainly get things done. But these books, obviously, aren't literature.

There are writers, like Ken Follett, wh
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Dem
Oct 25, 2014 Dem rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Ian Mc Ewan is fast becoming one of my favourite authors.

This is a short, simple story about a newly married couple called Florence and Edward and how " You can ruin everything by not speaking up"

I listened to this book which was narrated by Ian McEwan and what a wonderful experience that was.
This is one of those books that is full of hidden depth. On the surface the story may seem quite straight forward and yet there is so much depth to the characters and situations than first appears.

McE
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Cody
Sep 13, 2007 Cody rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I hadn't intended on reading any Ian McEwan in the near future, and this wasn't even atop my McEwan "to-read" list. However, as it is short-listed for the Booker, and since I have a tendency to hardly ever keep up with contemporary literature, I was inspired to pick this up at the library yesterday. Then, I proceeded to read it in one sitting.

Of course, this rapid reading was very much aided by the length of the book, but this is ultimately an inconsequential reason for my fixation. As with *Ato
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Caris
Aug 26, 2010 Caris rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: scorned lovers contemplating suicide
Shelves: 2010
Goddamn you, Ian McEwan.

With Saturday, you made me feel like I was going to throw up for a solid week. And, right now, I’m experiencing a similar feeling. I suppose I should thank you, as you’ve clearly pointed out that I react to extreme emotional manipulation with nausea.

I don’t know where I’m going to go here, but, mark my words, there will be spoilers. Of that I am sure.

What it reminds me of, really, is Aesop’s fables. On the last page, McEwan says:

This is how the entire course of a life can
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Will Byrnes
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Amanda
Mar 21, 2009 Amanda rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Oh, I dunno. People without baggage.
Recommended to Amanda by: Read some good GR reviews, specifically LA Brian's
Shelves: 2009
I don't know who this story thinks it is is, but it can shove off. It has put me in a bad damn mood and all I wanna do is fight.

People are assholes.

You know... I just...
Ugh...!!!!!
Jana
Sep 21, 2015 Jana rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
It took me three years to finish it. I bought it on Heathrow, eyes full of tears because I was departing from my boyfriend in Dublin via London. It was the n-th time I did this, fiercely sobbing while sitting on my luggage and hating every step of the known airport. It always took me a while to get a hold of myself, because London has always been no-man's land. Up to now, London has taken place as the place where my bipolar relationship reached its highs and lows. My head spinning in all directi ...more
Alistair
Feb 11, 2008 Alistair rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
McEwan is such a famous and well reviewed author that he should stand up to scrutiny unlike say a first time author feeling their way .
I found the whole story unrealistic and artificial and some of the writing lazy .
we are asked to believe that 2 people so in love and apparently still so years after their disasterous wedding night should not have found a way to overcome the inauspicious start .

we are also led to believe that somehow this problem was because they were living in an era before sex
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Jadranka
Aug 22, 2015 Jadranka rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition

Kao i uvek, i ovaj put Makjuanovi junaci su ljudi od krvi i mesa, puni strahova, predrasuda, kompleksa. Kod njega nema lažnog morala, on ogoljuje ljudsko telo i ističe sve njegove nedostatke, ali ne zato da bi ga izvrgao ruglu, već zato što je ono upravo takvo - nesavršeno i puno mana, baš kao što je i ljudska duša mračna i tajnovita.
"Čezil Bič" se može posmatrati i kao studija o komunikaciji i poverenju među životnim partnerima, otvorenosti i poštovanju tuđih osećanja, spremnosti da se problemi
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Jessica
Dec 15, 2007 Jessica rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: those of us who enjoy whining about the complexity of heterosexual relationships these days
Reading Ian McEwan makes me want to give up forever on writing any more sentences of my own. It's just embarrassing. Why bother? Ugh.

_______________

I am really glad I didn't read this book when I was a kid. If it had existed then and I'd come across it, between On Chesil Beach and Bell Jar I would've almost certainly gotten me to a nunnery, and I'd be there right now (though come to think of it, would that be such a bad thing?).

Actually, I think I read this at precisely the right stage of my lif
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Kim
Mar 30, 2012 Kim rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: mt-tbr-challenge

Back in about 1988 a friend lent me a novel she had just finished reading. "You must read this", she said, "it's amazing". The book was The Child in Time and I had heard of neither the book nor its author before. My friend was right about the book being amazing. I still remember being very impressed by the writing. However, I was devastated by the premise of the novel: the effect on a father of the abduction of his three year old child - so devastated that I decided not to read any more of McEwa
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Kelly
Dec 28, 2007 Kelly rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: self-absorbed waspy bourgeois
Shelves: 2007, drama
OK, seriously, Ian McEwan, you wrote Saturday. Saturday! You wrote f*ing Saturday! With its introspection and good and evil and everyday life and drama and mundane-ness and life and death and brain surgery and racquetball all wrapped up together in one ponderous experience of a book.

So, Ian McEwan, what the hell is this crap???

It could have been good -- it was a promising premise. If only your characters hadn't been completely despicable, pathetic, mean creatures. I just want to find these two p
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Fabian
Jul 14, 2016 Fabian rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Having only previously read Atonement and Saturday, I was both incredibly reluctant and eager to know what the “literary device” used in On Chesil Beach was; A.K.A. why it almost won the Booker Prize. I must say that the prose is so simple as to be deceitful and I was instantly aware, as I reached its final pages, that this novel was NO Atonement. (Indeed this is the stark opposite of that new classic: it is small where Atonement is enormous and epic, simple while Atonement is complex, and Atone ...more
Chazzbot
Jun 30, 2007 Chazzbot rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is a relatively short novel (just over 200 pages), but it carries quite a devastating emotional punch, particularly in its final chapters. McEwan's story concerns a newly married young couple in the early 1960's, neither of whom are sexually experienced. Edward looks forward to the societal license granted to him by his wedding to act on his physical impulses; Florence's love for Edward is honest, but the wedding night looms in her imagination like an unpleasant chore.

McEwan follows this c
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Teresa
Apr 27, 2013 Teresa rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: n-inglaterra
"É assim, não fazendo nada que todo o curso de uma vida pode ser alterado."

Um jovem casal na sua noite de núpcias.
Parecia-me tão pouco para ser merecedor de um livro...mas...após ler o último e comovedor parágrafo fechei o livro e pensei:
"Os livros são a trave mestra da minha vida! Sustêm-me, equilibram-me, ensinam-me, mostram-me alternativas e, acima de tudo, ajudam-me a compreender um pouco o mundo e as pessoas que me envolvem."

A história fala de um jovem casal apaixonado, prestes a consumar
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notgettingenough
A dud if ever there was one....

I suppose I should start off by saying I read this yesterday in quite some pain, so maybe that has made me even more intolerant that usual. Not for the first time I wonder at the professional world of book reviewing, this receiving the highest of accolades from the English press. It’s all a crock if you ask me.

This is a fifties/sixties story of the debacle of the wedding night of a young English couple. I wonder if it was a short story that got padded into 165 page
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Maciek
The following situation took place somewhere in an English pub.

-Say lad, you know the newest joke?
-No mate, bring it on.
-So there's this guy and this girl and they're having sex. Aftwerwards she turns over to her side and begins to speculate: "he was so silent today, I must have put on some pounds, or maybe it's that witch from the second floor, yes it must be that witch and her long, red hair, that damn hair I knew I should have dyed mine, it turns him on when I wear red, bla bla bli bli bla...
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Paul Bryant
Aug 25, 2013 Paul Bryant rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: everyone who's thinking about falling in love
Shelves: novels
This was a bit of real life Goodreads-style book-detective work. Not that much work really, but hey, kind of interesting to us weirdos.

I read this hot off the press and reviewed it saying thus :


Don't know if any other pop music geek already pointed this out - probably did - but it contains a major historical gaffe which amused and annoyed me - in 1962 the guy is playing his classical-music-loving fiancee Beatles and Stones records which wouldn't be released for a whole year. I bet IM is sick a
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Will
Mar 08, 2015 Will rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Short, not much more than a novella, but almost perfect. In 1962 Edward and Florence are between their wedding day and first night together. They are deeply in love but know next to nothing about each other. In that sense, the book could be about any age; what sets it firmly in 1962** (or really in any age up till then – it feels particularly Edwardian too) is that they are still virgins, and the sexual accident and misunderstanding that happens that evening would now have occurred much earlier ...more
Fil
Lo stile e' come sempre stupendo. McEwan ha una cultura molto vasta e la sa usare perfettamente: quando la protagonista e' una "matematica" McEwan utilizza espressioni ed esempi matematici ( Miele), quando e' un fisico ( Solar) dimostra che conosce bene la fisica, e con questo buon libro non ha smentito le mie aspettative.

I protagonisti sono una musicista e uno "storico": per gradire tutte le metafore usate nel libro bisogna avere parecchie nozioni musicali.

La trama (diversamente da altri suoi l
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Asghar Abbas
May 12, 2016 Asghar Abbas rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition


I assure you, Pakistanis wouldn't have this problem on their wedding night. Oh my God, such trepidation. Dear God, we wouldn't be thinking these thoughts at that time. Would have thrown the bellboy out, wouldn't matter to us if he was smirking, even in 1962. We'd finish couple of times over. Trust. This Nation. The amount of time these two wasted is incomprehensible, an alien notion to our entire nation. Reluctant. Hesitant. No Sir, not us ! Even if some of us here exhibited the traits these two
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Shovelmonkey1
Jan 17, 2012 Shovelmonkey1 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: long term McEwan fans
Recommended to Shovelmonkey1 by: previous McEwan reads
Another good read from the master of many adjectives and the king of random plot twists, step forward please Mr Ian McEwan.As usual, becaue McEwan is probably the word-smith equivalent of a control freak, the story is locked in by some very tight time parameters.

You wouldn't imagine nowadays there would be a lot of mileage in writing about the few hours after the wedding and you would be right. No one wants to read about the groom worrying about keeping it up after seventeen pints of cheap hote
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Martin
Jul 15, 2008 Martin rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2008books, favorites
"On Chesil Beach" is a tight, tiny gem of a book. Almost a novella, the writing is so precise and evocative and meaningful that it takes virtually no time to read at all. I read "Atonement," also by Ian McEwan, a few years ago and enjoyed it very much; the same dark perspective on human relations and keen insight into behavior and the inner life is at work here. The book is "just" a study of a young couple’s wedding night in England, 1962. We learn about bride and groom in turn, peering briefly ...more
Michelle
Oct 01, 2008 Michelle rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Michelle by: After Brian's review, how could I not read this book?
Shelves: novels
If you want to read a really good review of this book, click
here

Seriously. Go read that one. Don’t continue down this page.

My review is brought to you by the makers of Cialis

You don’t want this to happen to you.

I loved this book. I did. I began reading it on my own cross-country trip while I hoped for an epiphany. What I learned is that I’ll always be the same person I am right now. I’ll always be the responsible girl who analyzes every facet of things before acting. I’ll only ever gain true und
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Bam
#book-vipers-book-hunter: BEACH

"What we've got here is failure to communicate!"

Florence and Edward marry in the summer of 1962 and honeymoon at an hotel on Chesil Beach. Both are virgins and nervous but haven't been able to bring themselves to discuss how they truly feel. "And what stood in their way? Their personalities and pasts, their ignorance and fear, timidity, squeamish, lack of entitlement or experience or easy manners, then the tail end of a religious prohibition, their Englishness and
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Ian McEwan was born on 21 June 1948 in Aldershot, England. He studied at the University of Sussex, where he received a BA degree in English Literature in 1970. He received his MA degree in English Literature at the University of East Anglia.

McEwan's works have earned him worldwide critical acclaim. He won the Somerset Maugham Award in 1976 for his first collection of short stories First Love, Last
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“This is how the entire course of a life can be changed: by doing nothing.” 454 likes
“All she had needed was the certainty of his love, and his reassurance that there was no hurry when a lifetime lay ahead of them.” 148 likes
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