I have previously read Saturday and Atonement by Ian McEwan, and am amazed by his ability to write an entire novel covering only the course of a day or so. His grasp of human nature is flawless, and his insights into his characters’ minds, rather than the plot of the book itself, are often what drive his novels; On Chesil Beach does not stray from this style.
The book introduces Florence and Edward on their wedding night in July 1962, both virgins and from different backgrounds, but nonetheless, they exclaim their love for one another. Edward is eager for what is to come later in the night; Florence, however, is terrified of and disgusted by sexual intimacy. The novel focuses on the discovery of their different attitudes towards not only sex, but their philosophies on life, and how rash decisions, impatience, and misunderstanding can change the course of one’s future.
It has been rumored that a screenplay is in the works, which concerns me. Although Atonement was a good film, I generally think that Ian McEwan novels, because of their internal nature, would make terrible movies.