25. On Chesil Beach (Ian McEwan)

51Lat0IiJEL._SL160_My apologies to my blog followers for the lack of reviews this week but I have been feeling under the weather and even too tired for reading.  I kept seeing On Chesil Beach on reading lists and having enjoyed Atonement and read The Children Act, picked up the short novel by Ian McEwan.  Chesil Beach is a story of young love, misunderstandings, regret and things left unsaid which lead to a lifetime of loneliness and separation that did not need to be.

The reader is introduced to a couple on their wedding night. The groom is nervous yet so ready to consummate their marriage after waiting chastely for his bride.  The bride is terrified and very nervous about their first night together.  The couple don’t talk to each other much yet both reflect on their lives leading to this point during the meal as they build up anxiety waiting for the night to come.

We learn of the husband’s challenging family life.  He lived in squalor and helped care for his mother who was brain damaged in a fluke accident.  He always knew that their family was different and studied hard to improve his lot in life.

We are also introduced to the bride’s family.  She lived a life of privilege and studied music.  There are gentle hints but nothing definite written about a possible history of sexual abuse experienced by the bride.  She hopes for a quiet life with her new husband who she does love but wishes for marriage without the physical demands of her new spouse.

The couples’ evening culminates in disaster.  Neither is able to discuss their issues.  They separate, loving each other but frustrated at the married life that is not meant to be.  their parents arrange their annulment.  This is a sad story of immaturity, lack of communication and an inability to share feelings.  The reader is left with a feeling that the couple truly cared for each other and could have worked things out if only they had taken things slowly and talked about their feelings.

This was a quick read but like The Children Act missed the depth and history of Atonement.  I wouldn’t say that it should be added to your “To Be Read” piles but found it an easy book to read as a “palate cleanser” after finishing the 5 Canada Reads novels which were amazing examples of Canadian Literature!

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