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Ian McEwan's celebrated novel, now an unmissable film starring Oscar nominee Saoirse Ronan (Atonement, Brooklyn)

It is July 1962. Edward and Florence, young innocents married that morning, arrive at a hotel on the Dorset coast. At dinner in their rooms they struggle to suppress their private fears of the wedding night to come and, unbeknownst to them both, the events of the evening will haunt them for the rest of their lives.

Reviews

Wonderful...exquisite...devastating

Independent on Sunday

On Chesil Beach is more than an event. It is a masterpiece

Times Literary Supplement

Superb... The protagonists have everything to lose, and their faltering journey towards a point of no return is conjured into life my McEwan with irresistible subtlety, tact and force

Financial Times

Exquisitely crafted

Evening Standard

Written with a fierce pursuit of the truth and an utterly modern self-awareness, what a confidant tour de force this turns out to be

Sunday Express

This is McEwan's mature style, one we have come to recognise from Atonement and Saturday. It is a polished, civilised style, and very distant from the shock tactics of his early work... McEwan brings Florence and Edward touchingly alive for us; and their seriousness, their idealism, and their desire for love draw us towards them

Natasha Walter, Guardian

A master feat of concentration in both senses of the word

Peter Kemp, Sunday Times

One of our greatest living writers. Many Easter weekends and train journeys will be enlivened by a compelling novella

Christopher Dolan, Herald

To commend an author for being reminiscent of Edith Wharton is a compliment that this reviewer reserves for a select few. Yet with On Chesil Beach, Ian McEwan has earnt it

Lionel Shriver, Telegraph

It is a masterpiece. The very idea that informs it, fascinating and unfamiliar, is masterly

Karl Miller, TLS

A didactic, ironic novella of great accomplishment and calculated ambition. Structurally and linguistically, it is a triumph...intriguingly compassionate

Tom Chatfield, Prospect

It is a measure of McEwan's artistry that he is able here both to linger in the recording of sensuous particularities and at the same time to deliver the satisfactions of plot we are accustomed to deriving from his fiction

Time Out, Book of the Week

McEwan shares with his fellow English novelist Jim Crace not only an interest in history but in finding a style in prose that is slow-moving, yet compelling, at times stilted and dry, and then suddenly sharp and precise

Colm Toibin, London Review of Books

The protagonists of On Chesil Beach have everything to lose, and their faltering journey towards a point of no return is conjured into life by McEwan with irresistible subtlety, tact and force

Scotsman

The book is steeped in lost hopes and disappointments, with each sentence as powerful as a Larkin poem. I didn't know a British novelist could still be this good

Express

McEwan is word-perfect at handling the awkward comedy of this relationship and, as ever, turning it into something far more disturbing

Observer

Two characters so vibrant they step straight off the page

Yvonne Cassidy, The Tablet

McEwan's brilliance as a novelist lies in his ability to isolate discrete moments in life and invest them with incredible significance

Tim Adams, Observer

McEwan's style is lean and clear...every sentence feels carefully crafted, the words all perfectly in place

John Harding, Daily Mail

A tightly focused human drama... McEwan gives the reader access to both characters' thoughts with his usual skill, and the comedy of embarrassment, or of the kind of erotic misunderstanding that Milan Kundera used to specialise in, quickly disappears as the marital bed begins to seem more and more ominous... The bedroom scene itself is carried off brilliantly

Christopher Taylor, Sunday Telegraph

A fine book, homing in with devastating precision on a kind of Englishness which McEwan understands better than any other living writer, the Englishness of deceit, evasion, repression and regret. In On Chesil Beach McEwan has combined the intensity of his narrowly focused early work with his more expansive later flowered to devastating effect

Justin Cartwright, Independent on Sunday

McEwan is the kind of author who can say more in a sentence than most can say in a chapter...This is a thoughtful book which provokes thought. But more immediately than that, this is a book which, while managing to be very funny, gives us a wonderful and moving portrait of a specific time, and two of its hostages, and of how to make a mess of love

Keith Ridgeway, Irish Times

McEwan conveys the near-numinous significance of a single moment with quiet, almost unbearable grace

Metro

A heavenly read

Marie Claire

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Formats & editions

  • Paperback

    9781784705565

    June 18, 2018

    Vintage

    176 pages

    RRP $19.99

    Online retailers

    • Abbey's Bookshop
    • Amazon
    • Angus & Robertson Bookworld
    • Booktopia
    • Boomerang Books
    • Collins Booksellers
    • Dymocks
    • Books Kinokuniya
    • The Nile
    • QBD
    • Readings
    • Robinsons Bookshop
    Or

    Find your local bookstore at booksellers.org.au

  • Paperback

    9780099512790

    February 1, 2008

    Vintage

    176 pages

    RRP $19.99

    Online retailers

    • Abbey's Bookshop
    • Amazon
    • Angus & Robertson Bookworld
    • Booktopia
    • Boomerang Books
    • Collins Booksellers
    • Dymocks
    • Books Kinokuniya
    • The Nile
    • QBD
    • Readings
    • Robinsons Bookshop
    Or

    Find your local bookstore at booksellers.org.au

  • EBook

    9781407013138

    July 1, 2010

    Vintage Digital

    176 pages

    Online retailers

    • iBooks
    • Amazon Kindle
    • Booktopia
    • eBooks
    • Google Play
    • Kobo

Extract

ONE

They were young, educated, and both virgins on this, their wedding night, and they lived in a time when a conversation about sexual difficulties was plainly impossible. But it is never easy. They had just sat down to supper in a tiny sitting room on the first floor of a Georgian inn. In the next room, visible through the open door, was a four–poster bed, rather narrow, whose bedcover was pure white and stretched startlingly smooth, as though by no human hand. Edward did not mention that he had never stayed in a hotel before, whereas Florence, after many trips as a child with her father, was an old hand. Superficially, they were in fine spirits. Their wedding, at St. Mary’s, Oxford, had gone well; the service was decorous, the reception jolly, the send–off from school and college friends raucous and uplifting. Her parents had not condescended to his, as they had feared, and his mother had not significantly misbehaved, or completely forgotten the purpose of the occasion. The couple had driven away in a small car belonging to Florence’s mother and arrived in the early evening at their hotel on the Dorset coast in weather that was not perfect for mid–July or the circumstances, but entirely adequate: it was not raining, but nor was it quite warm enough, according to Florence, to eat outside on the terrace as they had hoped. Edward thought it was, but, polite to a fault, he would not think of contradicting her on such an evening.

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Also by Ian McEwan

My Purple Scented Novel
Atonement
Nutshell
The Children Act
Sweet Tooth
First Love, Last Rites
Solar
For You
Saturday
Rose Blanche
Amsterdam
Black Dogs
The Innocent
Enduring Love
The Child In Time
In Between the Sheets
The Comfort Of Strangers
The Cement Garden
The Daydreamer

Recommendations

The Handmaid's Tale
To Kill A Mockingbird
A Gentleman in Moscow
Echo Burning
The Curious Incident of the Dog In the Night-time
The Girl on the Train
The Heart's Invisible Furies
Dragonfly In Amber
The Narrow Road to the Deep North
The Golden House
The Bear and The Nightingale
Ready Player One
The Trip of a Lifetime
Breath
Animal Farm
The Light Between Oceans
Sanctuary
A Long Way from Home
The Travelling Cat Chronicles
Norwegian Wood