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On Chesil Beach

3.54  ·  Rating details ·  50,824 Ratings  ·  5,258 Reviews
In 1962, Florence and Edward celebrate their wedding in a hotel on the Dorset coast. Yet as they dine, the expectation of their marital duties weighs over them. And unbeknownst to both, the decisions they make this night will resonate throughout their lives. With exquisite prose, Ian McEwan creates in On Chesil Beach a story of lives transformed by a gesture not made or a ...more
Kindle Edition, 226 pages
Published June 10th 2008 by Anchor (first published April 5th 2007)
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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

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Sep 09, 2008 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
Sep 16, 2007 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
Dec 05, 2016 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: british
Having read my first McEwan, I think I can begin to understand why so many good friends feel conflicted about him, even though almost all my friends have recorded positive reviews for this particular novel - the reason I chose this one over others.

On Chesil Beach is hilariously funny, boldly intimate, and admirably candid when it describes the internal turmoil of its characters and their struggles to interpret their own truths, but taken whole I think the novel is just so so: the story, the basi
Jason Pettus
Sep 27, 2007 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
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
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
A story lives transformed by a gesture not made or a word not spoken.

This little novel is so deceptive. It's under 200 pages, and the story seems simple: the 1962 wedding night of Edward and Florence, two young, virginal people in love. Edward is ready to burst with the desire to consummate their marriage; Florence is dreading it.

But it isn't so simple. The night is a disaster, and wrought with the secret scars and fatal flaws the two people carry around. The writing is so revealing of the com
Feb 07, 2016 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


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
Oct 18, 2010 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 Aton ...more
Jan 11, 2017 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
This was a nice, short novel about two people consummating their marriage. They are both young and unexperienced and the book follows their short love story up and past the point of marriage.

I enjoyed the book. It was simple and short with an entertaining storyline behind it.

I listened to this book on audio cd and loved the interview with the author. It really explained the story well.
Oct 05, 2014 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.

Will Byrnes
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Sep 13, 2007 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
Feb 05, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The Young Man's Ego: A Heartbreaking Torpedo?

"This is how the entire course of a life can be changed: by doing nothing."

This is my first McEwan novel; it's almost a 5 but not quite. I must say, if this short novel is any indication, McEwan is a master of tightening the circles, bit by bit, to mounting tension and then to the Moment, the place and time when opposing forces collide, when choices must be made, and courses must be altered or not.

He delicately weaves in the backgrounds of newlyweds F
Mar 20, 2009 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...
Apr 20, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I've been in a relationship with Ian McEwan for less than a month now, and, let me tell you. . . he's driving me CRAZY!

I wonder things about him, like. . . does he have a particularly magical keyboard that only types out the right words?

Does he even bother with an editor, or do his manuscripts sprout wings and fly independently to the publishing house, where they are lovingly pressed into clever books?

Has he been in every complicated, interpersonal entanglement?

How does he do this? How does he t
Oct 15, 2009 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
Feb 10, 2008 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
Dec 15, 2007 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
Aug 16, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Από τα γνωστότερα έργα του Ίαν ΜακΓιούαν, ο οποίος έχει μια καλή φήμη για το έργο του. Το βιβλίο είναι μόλις 217 σελίδες με τεράστια γράμματα (!) και διαβάζεται εύκολα σε λίγες ώρες. Εξάλλου, κάτι μοναδικό στο έργο του συγγραφέα (έχω ξαναδιαβάσει βιβλίο του) είναι πως γράφει σε απλή γλώσσα και ο λόγος του ρέει πολύ εύκολα.

Ομολογώ ότι για τις περισσότερες σελίδες δεν έβρισκα για ποιο λόγο διαβάζω το βιβλίο. Το άφησα πολλές φορές στην άκρη με το μικρό μέγεθός του και την ημερομηνία επιστροφής στη
Jul 15, 2014 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
The end of this book made it a 5 star read. It was a story set in the 1960's, a time when young people meeting, and marrying in the way the main characters did, would be uncommon now. The reader senses Edward and Florence are not not well suited to be married. She is a classical musician, and he loves rock, and history. She comes from a well off family in Oxford, and he is from a family that lives in a small hamlet several miles from Oxford. His father is a school master, and his mother is disab ...more
Roger Brunyate

A brilliant book, but such a sad one; it would be unfair not to say so up front. Ian McEwan is a master at dissecting emotions. Every page of this wonderfully-crafted novel gave me the uncanny feeling of living within the skins of the two main characters, Edward and Florence, just married as the book opens. When they fall in love, nurture ambitions, experience happiness, I feel these things too. But when happiness eludes them, the pain is unbearable, not least because the author never lets
Mar 29, 2012 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
Aug 29, 2007 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
Jun 28, 2007 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
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
Paul Bryant
Sep 26, 2007 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
Mar 27, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: n-inglaterra, e4
"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 o
Aug 17, 2014 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
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Constant Reader 85 230 Dec 27, 2014 03:37PM  
What's The Name o...: 1950's, honeymoon, island, wedding night jitters [s] 5 153 May 11, 2014 08:27AM  
randomness or the way we intend things to go 9 159 Aug 02, 2012 12:43PM  
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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
More about Ian McEwan...

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“This is how the entire course of a life can be changed: by doing nothing.” 475 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.” 152 likes
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