On Chesil Beach

On Chesil Beach

by Ian McEwan

Arlene Almas: "On Chesil Beach" was written by Ian McEwan about a year before "Atonement," perhaps his best-known work. It's the story of Florence and Edward's wedding night in 1962, and of their lives and the events leading to this momentous occurrence. It's only the very beginning of the freewheeling 60's, and Florence and Edward are innocent, socially conservative, and completely without any sexual experience. What Florence is keeping secret from Edward (it's not a secret from us, the readers - we find out early in the book) is that she is terrified and sickened by the idea of the fast-approaching sexual encounter with her soon-to-be husband, and can't talk to anyone about it. (Spoiler alert: check out Florence's relationship with her father - see if you think there's any connection between that and her fear of sexuality.) The suspense was extremely compelling!
Rating: ****

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