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It is 1962 and two young newly-weds are spending their first night together in a Dorset hotel, overlooking Chesil Beach. While Edward is full of eagerness for their first sexual experience, Florence is terrified of sexual intimacy. Edward grew up in a rather chaotic family in the country; Florence’s parents are cool, slightly bohemian and upper middle class. The novel takes us from the charged atmosphere of the hotel room back into their pasts, their meeting each other, then out onto the wide lonely stretch of Chesil beach. The question that pervades the piece is: will their love for each other be enough to overcome their sexual incompatibility? Their relationship will change irrevocably. In this brief novel, Ian MacEwan brings alive the agonies and fragile joys of this innocent couple, whose situation is both gently comic and ultimately sad.


On Chesil Beach