On Chesil Beach is a short book packed with the spare, yet powerfully descriptive writing I have come to expect from Ian McEwan. I am amazed at how very much he can say, using so few words.
Time after time while reading this book, I was astonished as a passage described an ordinary, mundane element of daily life – one I never noticed or gave a second thought – with striking clarity.
Set in Dorset, England in 1962, On Chesil Beach is the story of Edward and Florence on their wedding night. Both are virgins, and for different reasons – which they have not discussed with each other – have concerns about consummating their marriage.
The story is fleshed out with flashbacks to the couple’s respective childhoods as well as various moments in their year long courtship. McEwan’s prose is sparse while providing vivid details and creating touching, sympathetic characters.