Ian McEwan: On Chesil Beach

We know the story in advance from the book acket a disastrous wedding night Both are virgins Young people will find that hard to believe these days but this is set in the 1960 s As the author tells us the pill was only a rumor They had no opportunity for intimacy while dating While in school in London he lived in a room in the house of a strict aunt She lived in a women s rooming house with a dorm mother keeping watch and no men allowedWe learn about their families and upbringing how they met and how they dated Both are intellectuals He s studying to be a professor of history her life is music and playing the violin They are or less in love and they are getting married because it s what you do This was still the erawhen to be young was a social encumbrance a mark of irrelevance a faintly embarrassing condition for which marriage was the beginning of a cure The woman suspects there is something wrong with her she knew nothing about sex The Queens Fool / The Virgins Lover just what she read in a how to guide She was terrified and repelled by all the talk of fluids and penetration He s anxious and fumbling He mistakes her moans of disgust for signs of pleasure It was a good story and it kept my attention but I found the book a bit dragged out Maybe it should have been a short story This is my sixth McEwan Enduring Love Nutshell Amsterdam Saturday and Atonement and only the last I rated a five Photo of Chesil Beach from Southamptonacuk they had so many plans giddy plans heaped up before them in the misty future as richly tangled as the summer flora of the Dorset coast and as beautiful I brought two novels along with me on a recent holiday this and another by one of my favorite writers Wendell Berry I forgot to pack the tissues That was a careless oversight I won t repeat again On Chesil Beach served as a reminder to not let years pass between reaching for books written by some of the most brilliant authors around Why do I do thisReading this novel while observing the inexperienced love of two of my companions on this trip made it doubly moving sweet and relevant It also made it difficult and disconcerting when the two I furtively observed were my teenage daughter and her boyfriend I filed away a lot of notes for future talks with my daughter about the importance of open communication in her relationships It also further emphasized that our own discussions as mother and daughter areust as essential as I have believed them to be This was still the era it would end later in that famous decade when to be young was a social encumbrance a mark of irrelevance a faintly embarrassing condition for which marriage was the beginning of a cure Almost strangers they stood strangely together on a new pinnacle of existence gleeful that their new status promised to promote them out of their endless youth Edward and Florence free at last Fortunately we don t live in a time when marriage is the ultimate goal in a young person s life There are still pressures and societal expectations that need to be tempered or even stamped out but we have made advancements in our thinking Edward and Florence however did not have the advantage of enlightened norms concerning the institution of marriage Naturally both then and now we bring into our relationships the good the bad and the ugly The key is to understanding these things first in ourselves and then to share them openly with our partners friends etc For some baffling reason this is often much easier said than doneWe first meet the beautiful promising young couple the evening of their wedding Through an omniscient narrator we are also privy to flashbacks into their childhoods A messy complicated tangle of emotions and backgrounds is exposed The disastrous tone of the beginning of the novel becomes and evident What at first may have appeared to be simple wedding night itters turns into a can of worms And what stood in their way Their personalities and pasts their ignorance and fear timidity sueamishness lack of entitlement or experience or easy manners then the tail end of a religious prohibition their Englishness and class and history itself Nothing much at all What I love about McEwan is not ust his penetrating analysis sorry couldn t resist but also his ability to insert some humor into his story on occasion On Chesil Beach is also heartbreaking honest and perfectly told Unshared fears secrets and wrong impressions can corrupt what on the surface seems simple and true The old clich that all you need is love is blown right out of the water A shared life needs a much sturdier foundation I adored this short but insightful powerfully written book I vow to read McEwan again within the next few months He s an expert at his craft and a gifted observer of human nature On Chesil Beach he could have called out to Florence I ve been in a relationship with Ian McEwan for less than a month now and let me tell you he s driving me CRAZYI wonder things about him like does he have a particularly magical keyboard that only types out the right wordsDoes 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 booksHas he been in every complicated interpersonal entanglementHow does he do this How does he take two virgins on their wedding night in 1962 put them in one hotel room and create a captivating novel from that one scene How does he make yo 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 suirmy 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 about The reader looks on helplessly and suirmingly as two virgins Edward and Florence sit in a hotel room on the beach embarrassed out of their minds It s 1962 on the cusp of the sexual revolution and the pair have neither the presence of mind or even the vocabulary to communicate openly with each other There is only a handful of words spoken until the very last chapter of the book it was tough for me not to use the word climax here but I try to stay classy For the first 50 pages or so I was convinced that McEwan was ust selling a freak show to us again that he s a popular author because people like reading about sex and other people s weirdo sex problems Who needs a plot or well executed sent. In vara anului 1962 cu putin inainte ca The Beatles sa devina faimosi Edward si Florence se casatoresc in orasul universitar Oxford Ceremonia decurge bine serviciile sint satisfacatoare petrecerea vesela si in sfirsit cei doi ramin singuri Sint fericiti poate un pic prea emotionati Iau cina intr un loc numit plaja Chesil asteptind noaptea

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Ences when we could have incest brain damage erectile dysfunction and a 30000 word sex scene Bring on other peoples guilt and shame But I kept reading and I m glad I did Through a number of seamless flashbacks the history of the couple unfolded before me so slowly and steadily and adeptly that I am now convinced that Ian McEwan is a genius A dirty old man genius It made me think back to a few years ago when Ben and I were lucky enough to interview Jim Shepard Ben s favorite contemporary writer and a visiting author at the University of Montana visiting because Ben reuested him no less We sat in the Union Club sipping straight whiskeys and Jim Shepard told us that the truly great books he was specifically talking about Marilynne Robinson s Housekeeping are books that are constantly revelatory And that s exactly what I though about On Chesil Beach Everyone we re talking about the characters and me were learning and understanding and deeply with each page It felt like a blossoming or to be less lame and corny like a picture very slowly coming into focus Many times when authors reveal information it seems cheap or as if they were withholding it from you in order to keep you reading dime mystery book stuff But McEwan s real gift is in the natural and subtle ways that he presents information to the reader In fact many of the biggest revelations in the book are never said outright but only seep into the story until you understand each one as truth It s really pretty well done So if you can handle cringing non stop for three or four hours and have a strong stomach you should pick up this book And let me know if you can figure out exactly how McEwan does what he does because I d like to know about it Love lost through an inability to speak truthIt is 1962 Edward and Florence have gone to a lovely seaside hotel on their wedding night totally unprepared for the actual mechanics of sex Both are virgins Both have little knowledge of what can or should be done and the result is not a happy one Still the issue here is not about the s of the 50 s I believe Is it really possible for two 20 somethings to be so ignorant even in 1962 I suppose it is possible But this is a novel about communication and trust than about the uptight s of a bygone time Ian McEwan from his websiteWe are shown the history of their relationship via flashback Florence came from a home bereft of physical contact There is one scene in which it is intimated although not conclusively that her father may have been guilty of a crime against her youth No wonder she is frightened Physicality to her is a source of shame And once given as when she was cuddled by one of her nannies as a child the pleasure is soon yanked away The nanny was let go But the crime here is that Edward and Florence are unable to talk with each other about their problem Had they exercised the power of speech they might have found a way out of their marital ungle We are shown what the future holds for them And maybe in that is a message about disparate times Maybe even with all the angst of changes over the last 50 years we are in a better position to address our issues in the 21st century even despite the divorce rate Two other McEwans I have had a go at Atonement and Saturday The much longer full review can be found at the Chicago Center for Literature and Photography cclapcentercomRegular readers know that this month CCLaP is taking an extended look at the nominees for the 2007 Booker Prize and regular readers also know that so far I ve been mostly disappointed by the nominees I ve read finding most of them to be inconseuential little wisps of stories many of them well written but certainly not weighty enough to be called The Best Novel of 2007 And thus do we come to the fifth Booker nominee to be reviewed here as well as the one easily most well known Ian McEwan s On Chesil Beach and let me tell you if a common complaint about this year s Booker nominees is of their slight and inconseuential nature On Chesil Beach isn t helping matters at all in that it is such a non excuse for a novel as to almost not exist In fact I can literally give you the entire plot of this 200 page paperback sized book in literally 177 words and this is a major spoiler alert by the way because I m not kidding I really am about to tell you the entire storyline of On Chesil Beach from beginning to end without skipping a single detail in 177 words ReadyA young middle class couple get married in England in 1962 and spend their wedding night on Chesil Beach He only got married because he s horny as hell and lives in middle class 1962 England where getting married is the only chance you re going to have to get laid and as a result has now become a cuckold employee of his upper class father in law she despises the very idea of sex altogether but is too much of a coward to tell her husband instead spending months psyching herself up into performing her upcoming wifely duties The wedding night arrives He gets so excited that he has a premature ejaculation on his wife s stomach She becomes so disgusted that she flees the room in a panic He chases her down the beach where they have an explosive argument based on mutual misunderstanding of each other s behavior She leaves him that night and their marriage is annulled presumably And he spends the rest of his life thinking about the relationship that was never meant to beNo dude seriously that s it that s the entire freaking plotline of the book Which fine I don t necessarily mind when it s a 10000 word short story in a literary magazine that I m reading on a boring Sunday afternoon down at my neighborhood cafe but seriously as a standalone book for 22 damn dollars And that the Booker committee has the gall to nominate as the best novel of the entire year Seriously Are you kidding me It s hard for me to i read this book in one sitting on a plane from la to nyc and it ust knocked my socks off and i came up with a scenerio imagine if i was flying cross country for some kind of mcewanesue 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 if i ust couldn t get her outta my head i mean what if this girl was Undercover at City Hospital just perfect like so ridiculously smart and funny and beautiful andust had that ineffable thing that only very very few people that you ever meet in your life have i mean what if prick atheist that i am. Untii Cu o acuratete innebunitoare vom afla povestea acestei nopti care incalcind orice simt al firescului nu se mai consuma Cei doi tineri traiesc drama unei crize sexuale intr o epoca in care conversatiile despre asemenea dificultati sint imposibil de purtat „Si ce ii oprea” noteaza autorul „personalitatile lor trecutul ignoranta si.

Read On Chesil Beach – cafe1919.org

I The Story of Our Lives just knew that this was something important does one behave cautiously and cower before the impossibility and impracticality of a geographically challenged love affair does one cower before doubt and fear and insecurity and the unknown and the possiblity of failureor does one shove all that useless stuff aside and burst forward chest out and fists clenched and grab one s fate by the throat rather than be content as attendant lord well this is the stuff of mcewan s fiction he s obsessed with that one moment and all the various possibilites which extend outward into time and space whether it be a shared glance while hanging from the dangling ropes of a uickly ascending hot air balloon or the reaction to a disastrous night of na ve lovemaking or being attacked by two canine rapists seriously or as in my case a magical but unrealistic night spent knocking around lower east side bars and one can t help but wonder in reading his books if one were put in the place of one of mcewan s protagonists how heshe would react as per my imaginary scenerio would one go for it or would it be smarter to think with the mind over the heart you want what you can t have grass is always greener love is a biological imperative necessary for survival of the species to consider the negatives 3000 miles is a lot of space between to be practical plenty of girls in los angeles would i go for it would iump on a plane for her would i risk looking like a crazy person would i risk rejection and heartbreak would it be the smart fuck smart move to get involved with someone i would rarely see in person would i throw caution fuck caution to the wind and make some kind of grand gesture to a girl i ve only actually seen in the flesh about 4 days in my life would i blow off the world and take her down to say south america for a weekor perhaps i would as so many of mcewan s tragic protagonists do take the reasonable route and allow fate to determine my coursehmmm 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 Update re film at the bottom It is clinical and understated from the start The wedding had gone well and the weather not perfect but entirely adeuate and continues in the bedroom with detailed descriptions of physical sensations of skin muscle and even individual hairs stroking for than one and a half minutes too preciseFlorence is incapable of rudeness Edward polite to a fault and both are virgins and unable to discuss intimate things There were no words to name what had happened there existed no shared language leading to misunderstandings lost opportunities and unexpected conseuences Edward is guided by duty Florence is guided by guilt though not being religious she can t 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 Chosen by the Lieutenant (Regency Brides of Convenience just so so the story the basic premise that holds it is very contrived and a whole lot of fillers in the shape of flashbacks have been thrown in to make it big enough to be a novel1962 Newly married couple Wedding Night Virgins Afraid of sexual failure our storyline Much can be said about Florence s total lack of interest in sex her fear of intimacy her disgust at being touched Okay we know she was a product of her time a timeust before the cultural change that revolutionized romance and sex in the West we know social conditioning had led her to view sex as dirty and corrupting and we know there had not existed an acceptable common language to discuss those matters and we know that she was kind of introvert with a singular aim of making it big in the world of classical music Some of those possibilities are explored briefly some only alluded to but none of those make her problem convincing I hoped in vain to learn something startling at the end something Zweig like But there was nothingWas she frigid or asexual a claim Edward her one night husband hurls at her as an accusation Was there some other psychological reason from her past that changed her attitude towards copulation Perhaps She says at one point Perhaps what I really need to to d0 is kill my mother and marry my father she did not seem to have an emotional attachment with either of her parent not in the normal sense Or was she a ueer and did not know about her own sexuality I admit this last one felt like the most plausible reason But perhaps none of it matters to the story It is not about sex but the failure of romance about lack of faith in one s own abilities about missed opportunities about the passing of time about doing nothing How an entire course of a life can be changed by doing nothingThe novel works as a basic portrait of the 1960s England with focus on London Oxford and its vicinity its cultural and political scene and two young people from different classes growing up apart and coming together in an uneven relationship that ends in a horrible crash on the Chesil Beach And that was that Also it gets rather treacly in the end to make us feel sorry for the couple enlarging on their romance post breakup summing up their whole lives after going separate ways in two or three pages that should not have been inflicted on the readerDecember 16 UPDATED May 24 2018 after watching the new film This is my second viewing of the film I first saw it last September during the Toronto film festival I read the book a month ago And I rescreened the film a few days ago to review before its theatrical release I prefer the novel especially for the witty all knowing narrator The flashbacks are handled much subtly in the book than they are in the movieBut the film McEwan wrote the screenplay captures the same tone of light comedy and tragedy Saoirse Ronan and Billy Howle are beautifully cast as are Samuel West and Emily Watson as Florence s parents and it s uite something to see the actual Chesil Beach In the film you understand that if you walk all the way out on the beach there s only one way to come back which is an intriguing metaphor for the central decision in the bookThe biggest difference in the movie apart from view spoilerthe abuse being much clearer hide spoiler. Temerile timiditatea o sensibilitate excesiva lipsa sigurantei a experientei sau a dezinvolturii ramasitele unor scrupule religioase istoria insasi” Edward si Florence sint cu adevarat un cuplu ciudat Amindoi inteligenti si educati dar diferiti – poate nu neaparat in mod ireconciliabil daca ar fi reusit sa vorbeasca sincer unul cu altu.

First Love Last Rites; the Whitbread Novel Award 1987 and the Prix Fémina Etranger 1993 for