McEwan, Ian - On Chesil Beach
First published 2007
This is a short book, almost a novella, which tells a powerful, but simple, story. The non-chronological narrative is without surprises or the acts of extreme violence which so often feature in McEwan’s work.
A very lower middle-class Edward and a haut-bourgeois Florence both in their early twenties fall in love during the late fifties and early sixties in a heavily repressive England. On their wedding night Florence can’t accept a sexual relationship with Edward, but offers him a platonic but open relationship instead. He rejects it only to fall later in life a series of unsuccessful and unfulfilling relationships during the sixties and seventies.
The book paints not only a strong psychological picture of the Edward and Florence, but also comprises a portrait of a forgotten age which is then contrasted with our own.