A short novel of quite remarkable depth, power and poignancy by a writer at the height of his powers.
It is July 1962. Edward and Florence, young innocents married that morning, arrive at a hotel on the Dorset coast. At dinner in their rooms they struggle to suppress their private fears of the wedding night to come....
On Chesil Beach is another masterwork from Ian McEwan - a story of lives transformed by a gesture not made or a word not spoken.
I'm going to give you fair warning - there is going to be a lot of intro to explain what I am doing with this review. I actually wasn't intending to write this review just yet - there are numerous other books that I was going to do first, but then last night I made a small discovery that I thought I might share.
First, a bit of an introduction. The First Tuesday Book Club is a book review show that is shown on the ABC (our public broadcaster - think the BBC without the funding) on the first Tuesday of each month. The regular reviewers are Marieke Hardy (grand daughter of a famous Australian author and actress, screenwriter and blogger in her own right), Jason Steger (book editor of The Age and The Sunday Age) and Jennifer Byrne (journalist and presenter), and they are joined each month by two guest reviewers. The two guest reviewers in this clip were Robyn Butler who is a comedian who just did a comedy series called The Librarians for the ABC, and Geoffrey Robertson (business man as far as I can tell).
My small discovery was that you can view all the reviews online, and that there is one there for On Chesil Beach by Ian McEwan. So by clicking on the link below you will be taken to the First Tuesday Book Club site, and will be able to watch just under 10 minutes of discussion (warning - lots of spoilers!)
On Chesil Beach discussion
So which of the reviewers did I agree with?
Well, I didn't weep buckets, but I didn't hate it to the point that I would take the risk alienate my spouse (if I had one), so I guess that I am with Jason. There were definitely some good parts of the book, but it did have problems! The set up of the story was excellent, and the ending was moving in a 'my goodness how did these people just let life pass them by' kind of way. The biggest problem for me is that the lack of communication between two people who are seemingly so in love just didn't work for me.
Originally posted at Reading Adventures March 2008