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A novel of remarkable depth and poignancy from one of the most acclaimed writers of our time.
It is July 1962. Florence is a talented musician who dreams of a career on the concert stage and of the perfect life she will create with Edward, an earnest young history student at University College of London, who unexpectedly wooed and won her heart. Newly married that morning, both virgins, Edward and Florence arrive at a hotel on the Dorset coast. At dinner in their rooms they struggle to suppress their worries about the wedding night to come. Edward, eager for rapture, frets over Florence’s response to his advances and nurses a private fear of failure, while Florence’s anxieties run deeper: she is overcome by sheer disgust at the idea of physical contact, but dreads disappointing her husband when they finally lie down together in the honeymoon suite.
Ian McEwan has caught with understanding and compassion the innocence of Edward and Florence at a time when marriage was presumed to be the outward sign of maturity and independence. On Chesil Beach is another masterwork from McEwan—a story of lives transformed by a gesture not made or a word not spoken.
“Heartbreaking. . . . Breathtaking. . . . Masterly. . . . No one now writing in English surpasses or even matches McEwan's accomplishment.” —The Washington Post Book World
“Remarkable, engaging, and gripping. . . . On Chesil Beach is not only a wonderful read but also perhaps that rarest of things: a perfect novel.”
—San Francisco Chronicle
“Dazzling. . . . McEwan treats [his subject] with a boundless sympathy, one that enlists the reader even as it disguises the fact that this seeming novel of manners is as fundamentally a horror novel as any [he's] written.”
—Jonathan Lethem, The New York Times Book Review
“A small, perfect, haunting work of art. . . . McEwan draws a humane, touching, sometimes comic portrait of marital misunderstanding in an era when so much less was sayable, or said.”
—Los Angeles Times Book Review
“Vintage McEwan. . . . His finely honed prose is a deep pleasure to experience.”
“Marvelously realized. . . .Wrenching, funny, smart, and hugely gratifying in unexpected ways. . . . On Chesil Beach is as merciful to its characters as it is merciless in its heartbreak.”
—The Boston Globe
“Exquisite. . . . compressed, crisp, [and] warmly specific. . . .[A] small masterpiece.”
—Entertainment Weekly, “A”
“Quietly riveting. . . . McEwan has never written more beautifully than he does in [this] melancholy and haunting new novel.”
—O, The Oprah Magazine
“A poignant meditation on love's ebb and flow.”
“A parable of failed empathy . . . mordant [and] melancholy.”
—The Village Voice
“Completely absorbing. . . . [I]nfused with a bitter poignancy…intense and powerful . . . a masterpiece.”
—The Philadelphia Inquirer