On Chesil Beach


On Chesil Beach

My brother lives in York and enjoys frequenting an Oxfam book shop. I happened to be with him on one of these visits (babe in tow) and my eyes glimpsed an Ian McEwan. The synopsis seemed intriguing so I causally added it to my brother’s pile of books (and music sheets) as he went to the till.

It took me a while to get around to reading it which is the story of my life at the moment, but once I was there I was pleasantly hooked. I read it in the bath and kept it by the side of the tub on which ever page I had left it at. I mention this boring detail because the book has some rather raunchy elements to it and a few times when we had guests I was nervous about a page being accidentally read in some way. Well, perhaps it would have inspired them to buy the book and absorb some great literature.

*side note: my cat has just sat on my lap making typing difficult….that cat*

The whole book is set around the wedding night of a young couple, interspersed with flashbacks from both of them about their lives before meeting, their meeting and courtship; a year falling in love without getting physically closer than a kiss (without tongue).  She, a society girl who is an accomplished and passionate musician and he, from a struggled background in a country town who has stumbled through life.

In typical Ian McEwan style, the climax is a little anticlimactic but the whole story is just a delight to read. As a reader you get closer and closer to the characters, without really feeling like you know them at all! To be able to centre a whole story around just a few hours is remarkable in itself, let alone make it gripping to read.

My favourite quote from the book, and very relevant to my sentiment above;

“This is how the entire course of a life can be changed: by doing nothing.” 

If you don’t already know (I didn’t before it came to writing this review), it was a 2007 Booker prize shortlist….and we all know how I love a recommendation!

A worthy 4 stars…..just a smidge shy of a 5.

4 star

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