“On Chesil Beach” by Ian McEwan

There was something unpleasantly disturbing about this book that didn’t let me fully enjoy reading it. I couldn’t make myself care about the characters, even though their inner struggles and reasons why they are the way they are were well depicted by the author.

Edward and Florence, both in their early twenties and virgins, are newly-weds, having just gotten married and arrived in Dorset for their honeymoon. The storyline swerves from the present moment when the couple is having what is supposed to be a festive dinner in honour of their wedding to both young people’s pasts.

Both Edward and Florence had their share of uncomfortable and sad experiences, besides, as was stated by the author, they are unlucky to be young in the time just before the general course shifted from strict morality rules to sexual freedom. So, here comes the source of my feeling of disturbance. The story is too centered around intimate relationships. Indeed, it is an integral part of life, and the book’s main characters are newlyweds. But to me, it felt flat and somewhat boring that the only thing two educated, intelligent people in love could think of was the moment they would get into bed together. And that the simple act they are supposed to perform there causes so much trouble and leads to their first wedding night becoming a complete disaster.

The last few pages of the book saved the story for me. I found it fascinating how the lives of Edward and Florence turned out to be after that first wedding night, what paths they took, and where they led them.

I bought this book solely because of the title. Chesil Beach is the backdrop of my own love story, and the Dorset coast will always have a special place in my heart. Alas, in the book, there were only tiny glimpses of the magnificent landscapes of the Jurassic Coast.

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