What is it about?
Edward Mayhew has punched above his weight. Florence Ponting has it all; she’s beautiful, from a wealthy family, and is the principle player in a string quartet – she sees everything in music. And now, finally, on their wedding night she is all Edward’s. Or is she? Walking out on Chesil Beach, Dorset, they are about to find out things about each other that stifling 1962 society has prevented them from learning before. Can their marriage last more than one night?
Is it any good?
On Chesil Beach is an odd little novella that makes you squirm, think, reflect and feel an overwhelming nostalgia all at once. McEwan makes a good use of flashbacks throughout the disastrous wedding night to show both of the key characters’ different upbringings, making them more and more three-dimensional whilst keeping them at the centre of the action. When you finish it though, you are left with a sort of ‘well, what was the point of that?’ feeling, and an overall air of, ‘there’s a few hours of my life I’ll never get back’. There’s more journey than destination, which is odd considering it is all about the destination. Overall, though, it is enjoyable, and I must credit McEwan for including – intentionally or not – the first asexual character I have come across in major literature.
How long did it take to read: three days
For fans of: A Handful of Dust by Evelyn Waugh, gentle Sunday afternoons
This books tastes like: slices of hot roast beef with grafy and potatoes