On Chesil Beach

Posted on: 23 March, 09


On Chesil Beach by Ian McEwan


Thank goodness this was a rather petite book because I did not like it.  The story opens with a young couple about to embark on their wedding night.  The story allegedly takes place in the 1960’s, but the characters feel more like they belong in 1860’s.  Much ado is made of the angst surrounding their first “encounter.” 

The vast majority of the book is filled with the history of the main characters lives before they were married.  I skimmed many of those pages because I just did not need that much detail.  What happens after the wedding night is summed up in just a few pages.  The wedding night is the turning point of the story, yet the effects of that night are glossed over in brevity.

It was obvious a man wrote this book given the description of the wedding night.  There was way too much discussion of what was physically happening as opposed to emotional.  It was definitely written from a man’s point of view, even though McEwan attempts to explain the new bride’s emotions. 

The numerous positive reviews is what prompted me to read this book.  I really believe many of those reviews were just going along with the crowd.  The writing was amateurish.  I have read better from middle school students. 

It has been a while since I have read a really good book.  Any suggestions?


8 Responses to "On Chesil Beach"

Have you read “The Book Thief”? Another good book was “Those Who Save Us”. I am re-reading some of the classics — The Great Gatsby, To Kill a Mockingbird are 2 that I have read this year.

The Thirteenth Tale, Margaret Setterfield
My Name is Will, Jess Winfield
The House at Sugar Beach, Helene Cooper
Homestead, Rosina Lippi (great lit)
The Pajama Girls of Lambert Square, Rosina Lippi (good read)
Atonement, Ian McEwan (I liked it. Maybe it will ‘atone’ for the one you just finished. Maybe you shouldn’t read it next, though–g–).

Have you read Outlander by Diana Gabaldon? It’s a great series. Very well written and researched, and a fun story, too. A little suspension of disbelief required, but I’m okay with that, especially for wonderful characters and a story that makes you want to keep reading.

I read Trans-Sister Radio on your recommendation. It was a good read, and it made me think. I was on the edge of uncomfortable most of the book –g–.

I’m reading Botany, Ballet, and Dinner from Scratch by Leda Meredith. I started it last night, and I’m probably 1/4 of the way through. Fun little book so far, though. Memoirs with recipes.

Also on my nightstand is Georgiana, Duchess of Devonshire by Amanda Freeman. Loved the movie–I’m not sure why it was so slammed. This book is a biography, not a novel.

Okay, I’ll stop now. One of those will surely appeal to you. . .or not.

How funny, I just got “Atonement” today by him.

As to good books…no. I read all kinds, mostly romance serials, and even those are disappointing, so I write my own. I’ve read some that I disagreed with (non-fic), some I wondered what they were smoking (sci-fi) and some that bored me to tears (Twilight….just that, I can’t get through it for the rest of the series).

I have an old standby that’s good in a drive-by way, the Alvin Maker series, and it’s good for a read, once.

I agree with SewDucky–anything by Orson Scott Card. Alvin Maker, and Ender’s Game. Also some great short stories.

I liked Atonement. But some of his other stuff is weird.

I have heard good things about The People of the Book, about a Judaic books safeguarded in Bosnia for years by non-Jews. (at least I think that is what it is about.) A reading group here tried in and loved it. The university invited the author and it was a good discussion. I have to find it from the library.

Have you read any of the Thursday Next stuff from Jasper Fforde? It is about a book detective who can actually jump into books and be part of them. The series is wild but if you are a book person you can get into it.

Most of the other stuff I have read lately is rote formula stuff-sold that idea once, lets write it again. I want something new.

I get a lot of good book suggestions from the Nancy Pearl website. She is the librarian who is on NPR all the time. She wrote Book Lust. I have never read anything bad that she suggested.

The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society
by Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows
I heard about this first in Marcy Tilton’s monthly newsletter.
The entire book is written in the form of diary entries. A very fast and good read.

I’m reading a standby — Sense and Sensibility.

But I took time off in the middle of it to zip through Cory Doctorow’s Down and Out in the Magic Kingdom. It turned out to be an interesting juxtaposition — as I’m finishing Austen I keep wondering how her characters would play out if they dealt in Whuffie instead of money.

Which, of course, made me think about Thursday Next meandering from one book to the other …. At this point I’ve got a very entertaining adventure going on in my own head, as I’m semi-imagining all of this going on in the background while I’m still reading about Edward and Elinor, et al.

Sometimes it’s not just what you read, but what you bring to the book. Also, I maybe get a little too involved in what I read.

Rosina Lippi reviewed “Chesil Beach” on her blog. You might be interested in reading it (and maybe her books).

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