Book Review: On Chesil Beach by Ian McEwan

My friend gave me this book awhile back and while the cover immediately grabbed me, and I’d heard great things about the author, I didn’t pull it off the shelf until last week. I’m glad I did!

This was a wonderful, odd little book. It follows a young couple on their wedding day in a small seaside town in England in the 1960s. The main tension is about their unconsummated relationship and their individual, unspoken worries about the wedding night. There are some flashbacks to give us their back stories (childhoods, courtship, etc) but the focus is small – two people, one place, a short period of time – and it is mostly the narrator “telling” in expository prose. Nevertheless, in McEwan’s expert hands, it works. I really enjoyed this book but gave it four stars instead of five because I found the ending didn’t quite satisfy me. But given the topic of the book and the way that wedding night plays out, maybe it wasn’t supposed to!

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