Friday, January 18, 2008

On Chesil Beach - Post I

With a couple of his books under the belt and the fact that his name is everywhere it seemed like a good idea to bring things up-to-date and read Ian McEwan’s latest book.

Without going into too much detail the prospect of intimate relations with my wife on my wedding night never filled me with dread. When it came to the moment the problem was just staying awake – after a full couple of days preparing and then getting married. However for the husband and wife in this story that is far from the case.

It harks back to a different age when sex was a taboo subject for some people and the idea of participating in the act filled some people with dread.

The story moves like waves coming and going from the present to the past as McEwan weaves a story around how Florence and Edward are on honeymoon, met, fell in love and got married. The elephant in the room, to use a phrase, is that at the end of the lovely meal they are enjoying in the hotel overlooking the path down to Chesil beach in Dorset they will of course have to consummate their marriage.

Both husband and wife are scared of the idea but Florence more so. She takes the odd decision to appear to initiate the move from the dining table to the bedroom so that her husband will not detect her fear. Meanwhile he is starting to allow his primal desires to kick in and you sense that as the story comes back from revealing how and where they met and the bedroom looms large again, that there will be some sort of showdown.

The writing is fluid and easy to consume even if it is initially a bit disappointing that this is going to be focused on the sexual act. But the description of their lives, location and motivation is handled so simply that you picture it all without ever realising the picture has been painted so well for you/

The second half will be posted about over the weekend…


Lisa said...

I've only read two books by McEwan, Atonement and Chesil Beach. I enjoyed both, but I think I liked Atonement better. Chesil Beach was good, but I just had a hard time with the ending. It was a little unbelievable for me. I'd love to know what you thought once you finish the book.

simon quicke said...

Lisa I know what you mean. I have posted my thoughts on the second half of the book but will try to put something more reflective up in my review. The bit after the book has finished about the hotel never really existing is odd as well it doesn't feel necessary to say that and makes you wonder just where the real hotel was.