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On Chesil Beach | [Ian McEwan]

On Chesil Beach

It is July 1962. Florence is a talented musician who dreams of a career on the concert stage and of the perfect life she will create with Edward, an earnest young history student at University College of London, who unexpectedly wooed and won her heart. Newly married that morning, both virgins, Edward and Florence arrive at a hotel on the Dorset coast. At dinner in their rooms they struggle to suppress their worries about the wedding night to come.
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Publisher's Summary

It is July 1962. Florence is a talented musician who dreams of a career on the concert stage and of the perfect life she will create with Edward, an earnest young history student at University College of London, who unexpectedly wooed and won her heart. Newly married that morning, both virgins, Edward and Florence arrive at a hotel on the Dorset coast.

At dinner in their rooms they struggle to suppress their worries about the wedding night to come. Edward, eager for rapture, frets over Florence's response to his advances and nurses a private fear of failure, while Florence's anxieties run deeper: she is overcome by sheer disgust at the idea of physical contact, but dreads disappointing her husband when they finally lie down together in the honeymoon suite.

Ian McEwan has caught with understanding and compassion the innocence of Edward and Florence at a time when marriage was presumed to be the outward sign of maturity and independence. On Chesil Beach is another masterwork from McEwan: a story of lives transformed by a gesture not made or a word not spoken.

©2007 Ian McEwan; (P)2007 Random House, Inc. Random House Audio, a division of Random House, Inc.

What the Critics Say

"Masterful." (Publishers Weekly)
"Conventional in construction and realistic in its representation of addled psychology, the novel is ingenious for its limited but deeply resonant focus." (Booklist)

What Members Say

Average Customer Rating

3.8 (237 )
5 star
 (77)
4 star
 (76)
3 star
 (53)
2 star
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1 star
 (6)
Overall
3.8 (48 )
5 star
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3 star
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2 star
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1 star
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Story
4.1 (48 )
5 star
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4 star
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3 star
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2 star
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1 star
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Performance
Sort by:
  •  
    George Bryan, OH, USA 06-13-07
    George Bryan, OH, USA 06-13-07 Member Since 2004
    HELPFUL VOTES
    71
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    54
    6
    FOLLOWERS
    FOLLOWING
    0
    0
    Overall
    "One of the best new novels in recent years"

    NcEwan has crafted a compelling and tightly woven novel of two lives that are changed by one night and the things not said. To say much more about the story could spoil it for the next reader. I found it difficult to stop listening to it. A perfect audio book for a long car trip when you can listen nonstop. As a literary work this will remain a significant work of this century. The author reads this shot novel with a level of feeling and drama that would be difficult for anyone else to match. Thoroughly enjoyable.

    13 of 13 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Cariola Chambersburg, PA USA 07-27-07
    Cariola Chambersburg, PA USA 07-27-07 Member Since 2005

    malfi

    HELPFUL VOTES
    747
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    340
    174
    FOLLOWERS
    FOLLOWING
    282
    6
    Overall
    "More than I Expected"

    The description of this book didn't sound too promising, even though I'm a big McEwan fan . . . how can one write an entire book about a few hours on a wedding night? But McEwan deftly creates two engaging characters who generate the reader's empathy. I found the interview with the author particularly insightful, especially on the question of why he summed up Edward's life in the end but not Florence's. Not all authors are good readers, but McEwan does a fine job. Don't be put off by reviews which make it sound as if the book is about nothing but sex. It's so much more.

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    cjwheeler 01-17-10
    cjwheeler 01-17-10 Member Since 2005

    I love BOOKS and reading, listening is as good when I can't look at the book. I listen every minute driving.

    HELPFUL VOTES
    138
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    421
    33
    FOLLOWERS
    FOLLOWING
    2
    3
    Overall
    "blah, blah, blah, Crap"

    I really enjoyed Atonement. But this book is not my cup of tea.
    This book is not bad when telling the story of their lifes before they meet and their meeting and courtship but interspersed is a bunch of sexual disfunction drivel so monotonous and indepth that I couldn't stand to listen. I FF through parts trying to find interesting parts and then the book was over.
    The authors voice was fine to listen to, but he tried to make it sould like what he was reading was so monumental and amazing.
    Not a book for me.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    E. Stern Cleveland, OH 11-02-07
    E. Stern Cleveland, OH 11-02-07 Member Since 2004
    HELPFUL VOTES
    15
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    4
    3
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    FOLLOWING
    0
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    Overall
    "Another phenomenal book"

    Ian McEwan is a master; this short book was riveting and revelatory. If you've read him before you know that his depiction of the inner experience of women is astute and often astonishing. In the interview at the end (we're so lucky to have Audible!) he talks about limiting actual depicted conversation between the two main characters until the ultimate confrontation at the end. This is a fascinating narrative tool in the hands of an artist like McEwan. Next download: everything else by McEwan.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    J Summit, NJ 08-23-07
    J Summit, NJ 08-23-07 Member Since 2005

    Reader & Listener

    HELPFUL VOTES
    29
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    117
    9
    FOLLOWERS
    FOLLOWING
    0
    1
    Overall
    "Short One, But Decent"

    This does not approach "Atonement" (one of my all-time favorite books) in quality, but is quite worth reading. The situation is infuriating, and the ending a bit bland compared to the heart of the story, but it certainly is a compelling portrait of the clashing mores of its time (early sixties). The author interview after the book is a significant value-added feature that makes the audio version preferable to the print.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Jennifer Powell, OH, USA 08-21-07
    Jennifer Powell, OH, USA 08-21-07 Member Since 2007
    HELPFUL VOTES
    2
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    32
    1
    FOLLOWERS
    FOLLOWING
    0
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    Overall
    "disappointed"

    I was disappointed in this book. I bought it because the other reviews were great. It was very descriptive and slow moving. If you like books filled with emotional descriptions, then you'll probably love this book. If you like books with action and excitement, you might be bored like I was. It also ended earlier than I expected because there's a very long note about the book at the end. I was kind of shocked when I realized it was over already.

    2 of 3 people found this review helpful
  •  
    04-17-12
    04-17-12 Member Since 2007
    HELPFUL VOTES
    0
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    2
    2
    FOLLOWERS
    FOLLOWING
    0
    2
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Inthrolling story many of us have faced in life."
    Would you listen to On Chesil Beach again? Why?

    Yes, not to miss anything.


    What did you like best about this story?

    How we are all victims of our ingnorance.


    Have you listened to any of Ian McEwan’s other performances before? How does this one compare?

    No. But I plan to.


    Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?

    No


    Any additional comments?

    I was facinated with the iterview with the author that came after the story end.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Eve Andover, MA, USA 01-06-08
    Eve Andover, MA, USA 01-06-08
    HELPFUL VOTES
    36
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    243
    13
    FOLLOWERS
    FOLLOWING
    0
    0
    Overall
    "so-so"

    This is a tepid book. The subject is depressing, and the writing is even more so. Is it the same Ian McEwan who wrote "Atonement" and "Saturday"?

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
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