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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.

Critic Reviews

"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 Ratings

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Story

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Sort by:
  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • George
  • Bryan, OH, USA
  • 06-13-07

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.

17 of 17 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Cariola
  • Chambersburg, PA USA
  • 07-27-07

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.

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    2 out of 5 stars

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.

4 of 5 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Darwin8u
  • Mesa, AZ, United States
  • 02-08-16

A tight little novella

"...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, who seem to need to insert sex writing into a novel every 160 - 200 pages just to help drive the novel's narrative forward. Sex in these adventure, mystery, genre novels, etc., acts as almost a sign post or quick reward. "Congrats, fair reader, you made it to page 320, here is your second sex scene on a road with a monk." But as delivered, it all just seems a bit flat and not a little absurd.

Now, I'm not saying there isn't good sex writing out there, I have actually come across some. Joyce, Miller, Chopin, and Lawrence all seem to be able to walk that narrow beach of rolling bodies without twisting their ankles on the rocks. The capture the human frailty and power and awkwardness and sensuality of sex without dipping into cliché or caricature. I'm not sure why some, few, writers I can handle and most others I just despise. I'm not a prude. I get that sex is a part of life. It isn't icky. I'm not ashamed by it. I realize like food, it is a part of life and thus needs to be represented and shadowed in art and literature.

So, with all that baggage and preamble, it was still with quite a bit of trepidation that I slid into Ian McEwan's tight little novella. One reason I think this novel didn't bend me over too much with its very direct narrative about sex was Ian McEwan's mastery of language. He knew exactly what he was doing. He was aiming for an exact mood, a tension, a flick of a finger on a solo hair, an almost anti-climax, to convey the message of this novella. It required a tease, a premature crescendo, and in the end -- the cold, wet, and sticky dialogue of pain and regret.

14 of 20 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars

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

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • J
  • Summit, NJ
  • 08-23-07

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

  • Overall
    2 out of 5 stars

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.

3 of 4 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

This story captures my wasted youth.

Edward could have been me! I was born a year after Edward and was as naive as he was with girls and woman. It wasn’t much fun. Ian has captured that period of England in a beautiful and savage way. Ignorance is not bliss, it is agony.

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

Haunting and complex

Short book, under 5 hrs total. Decided to read after seeing new film. Many details are different from cinematic version, and I ended the story with more questions than I had after the movie. McEwan is a brilliant writer and narrator of Audible version. Thoroughly enjoyable.

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

A book for everyone!

About the naivite' of intimacy of a young couple and how it ruled the rest of their lives.