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On Chesil Beach    by Ian McEwan order for
On Chesil Beach
by Ian McEwan
Order:  USA  Can
Knopf, 2007 (2007)
Hardcover, CD
* * *   Reviewed by Michael Graves

With my first glance at the book I was somewhat disappointed for instead of the luxury of a full size novel, On Chesil Beach is a novella of 166 pages. However, there is a distinct advantage to a book this size, as it can be read at one sitting or at least over a couple of days. This is how this story should be savoured, as the mood created in the book is as important as the narrative.

The story starts in a very normal way on the common grounds of the first evening of a honeymoon in 1962. But then the complications of the marital situation and the complexity of the characters are revealed. Edward and Florence are very different in background and character, and if opposites attract, that is also at the root of problems that they eventually encounter.

McEwan captures the period of the late 50's and early 60's extremely well, which is critical to an understanding of the motivations of both Edward and Florence. Also, ample opportunity is provided to probe their inner thoughts, something essential in developing empathy for both individuals.

The language of the text is carefully chosen to offer thoughtful consideration to events as they unfold. The end product is an intelligent, thought provoking and splendid tale of two people in love, but in circumstances that drive them apart. On Chesil Beach succeeds on every level, providing a rewarding reading experience that lingers well after the book is re-shelved.

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