Good Morning! I have an awesome project that I cannot wait to share with you, but unfortunately, I need to run out for some more paint for it. So, until that happens later today, the project is on hold for the moment. So, this morning, a few days early, I want to share with you some updates and reviews for this month's READ THIS! novel, On Chesil Beach, by Ian McEwan.
I finished this novella over the weekend and I had some mixed feelings about it. I'm looking forward to sharing my feelings with you at the end of the month, but for now, here are some reviews from a number of critics about On Chesil Beach...
Jonathan Lethem, for the NY Times, writes, "... young, educated ... virgins ... wedding night ... sexual difficulties. The first stone on McEwan’s new beach indulges his radical efficiency with a hook. If McEwan’s first chapters generally ought to be sent, like Albert Pujols’s bats, to the Hall of Fame, then we may agree that in this instance his first sentence is a first chapter of its own, as well as doing extra duty as its host book’s perfect piece of ad copy. (Here’s my spoiler warning: “On Chesil Beach” is far too lean and pure for me to muse on more than a few of its sentences without giving some secrets away. If you’re inspired by the hook above, read the book — it’ll be nearly as quick as reading my review, and more fun.) [...] The bulk of “On Chesil Beach” consists of a single sex scene, one played, because of the novel’s brevity and accessibility, in something like “real time.” Edward and Florence have retreated, on their wedding night, to a hotel suite overlooking Chesil Beach. Edward wants sex, Florence is sure she doesn’t. The situation is miniature and enormous, dire and pathetic, tender and irrevocable. McEwan treats it with a boundless sympathy, one that enlists the reader even as it disguises the fact that this seeming novel of manners is as fundamentally a horror novel as any McEwan’s written, one that carries with it a David Cronenberg sensitivity to what McEwan calls 'the secret affair between disgust and joy.'"
The Economist review states, "Mr McEwan's prose is, as always, intense and visually descriptive, but in this elegantly crafted novel his skill lies in his illumination of an evening taut with emotional paralysis and in his portrayal of missed opportunity. As events move forward to the book's dénouement, “On Chesil Beach” becomes much more than a simple story of emotions held in check by convention. It is a memorable exposé of how terrible wounds can be inflicted and the entire course of a life changed—by doing nothing."
Ted Gioia, for Blogcritics, writes, "McEwan ranks among our greatest living novelists, but though I count myselfamong his admirers, I sometimes find fault in his plots, which tend to relyheavily on unlikely coincidences and all-too-clever twists and turns. He is themaster of the surprise ending, but sometimes the astonishment – as in workssuch as Amsterdam or Saturday – is achieved in a manner that is forced and unconvincing. But in On Chesil Beach, McEwan dispenses with the flashy and dazzling effects, and succeeds through sheer poise, intelligence and solid writing. His tale of Edward and Florence will surely rank among his finest works."
As you can see, Ian McEwan's On Chesil Beach has been well-received and McEwan's prose continues to impress his readers. Are you reading along? Loving this so far? Or do you have mixed feelings about it as well? I'd love to hear your feelings so far!