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 Florences response to his advances and nurses a private fear of failure, while Florences 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 McEwana story of lives transformed by a gesture not made or a word not spoken.
They were young, educated, and both virgins on this, their wedding night, and they lived in a time when a conversation about sexual difficulties was plainly impossible. But it is never easy. They had just sat down to supper in a tiny sitting room on the first floor of a Georgian inn. In the next room, visible through the open door, was a fourposter bed, rather narrow, whose bedcover was pure white and stretched startlingly smooth, as though by no human hand. Edward did not mention that he had never stayed in a hotel before, whereas Florence, after many trips as a child with her father, was an old hand. Superficially, they were in fine spirits. Their wedding, at St. Marys, Oxford, had gone well; the service was decorous, the reception jolly, the sendoff from school and college friends raucous and uplifting. Her parents had not condescended to his, as they had feared, and his mother had not significantly misbehaved, or completely forgotten the purpose of the ...
When they step into the bell jar of their hotel room Edward and Florence leave all extraneous influences outside, allowing us to microscopically examine the motivations and miscommunications of these two well meaning young people in a controlled atmosphere, in which every misstep is theirs alone and their future happiness might turn on something as spontaneous and irretrievable as a single gesture.
(Reviewed by BookBrowse Review Team).
Full Review (648 words).
Selected Events from the
early 1960s (from a British
1960: Penguin Books put on trial under the 1959 Obscene Publications Act for publishing Lady Chatterley's Lover (30 years after it had first been published in Italy). They are found not guilty and the prosecution is widely ridiculed as being out of touch with changing social norms when the chief prosecutor asks if it were the kind of book "you would wish your wife or servants to read".
"The Pill" becomes the ...
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