On Chesil Beach
By Ian Mcewan
(Anchor, Paperback, 9780307386175, 224pp.)
Publication Date: June 10, 2008
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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 word not spoken.
Ian McEwan is the bestselling author of more than ten books, including Atonement, winner of the National Book Critics Circle Award and the W. H. Smith Literary Award, and Amsterdam, winner of the Booker Prize. He lives in London.
1. What do the novel's opening lines tell us about Edward and Florence? How did your perceptions of them change throughout the subsequent pages? What details did you eventually know about them that they never fully revealed to one another?
“Heartbreaking. . . . Breathtaking. . . . Masterly. . . . No one now writing in English surpasses or even matches McEwan's accomplishment.” —The Washington Post Book World“Remarkable, engaging, and gripping. . . . On Chesil Beach is not only a wonderful read but also perhaps that rarest of things: a perfect novel.” —San Francisco Chronicle“Dazzling. . . . McEwan treats [his subject] with a boundless sympathy, one that enlists the reader even as it disguises the fact that this seeming novel of manners is as fundamentally a horror novel as any [he's] written.” —Jonathan Lethem, The New York Times Book Review“A small, perfect, haunting work of art. . . . McEwan draws a humane, touching, sometimes comic portrait of marital misunderstanding in an era when so much less was sayable, or said.” —Los Angeles Times Book Review“Vintage McEwan. . . . His finely honed prose is a deep pleasure to experience.” —Chicago Sun-Times“Marvelously realized. . . .Wrenching, funny, smart, and hugely gratifying in unexpected ways. . . . On Chesil Beach is as merciful to its characters as it is merciless in its heartbreak.” —The Boston Globe“Exquisite. . . . compressed, crisp, [and] warmly specific. . . .[A] small masterpiece.” —Entertainment Weekly, “A”“Quietly riveting. . . . McEwan has never written more beautifully than he does in [this] melancholy and haunting new novel.” —O, The Oprah Magazine“A poignant meditation on love's ebb and flow.” —Vogue“A parable of failed empathy . . . mordant [and] melancholy.” —The Village Voice“Completely absorbing. . . . [I]nfused with a bitter poignancy…intense and powerful . . . a masterpiece.” —The Philadelphia Inquirer