On Chesil Beach  

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Kunstformen der Natur (1904) by Ernst Haeckel
Kunstformen der Natur (1904) by Ernst Haeckel

On Chesil Beach (ISBN 0385522401) is a 2007 novel by Ian McEwan. Michael Dirda cites it as a favourite 2007 read: "Excellent novel of lost opportunities and sex (or lack of) in the pre-sex revolution '60s. Think partly of Larkin's famous poem!"

Plot summary

In July, 1962, Edward Mayhew and Florence Ponting, young people of drastically different backgrounds (he's the son of a schoolmaster and a brain-damaged woman, whereas she is the artistically inclined daughter of a wealthy industrialist and an Oxford lecturer) have just been married and are spending their honeymoon in a small hotel on the Dorset seashore. (See Chesil Beach.)

During the course of an evening, both reflect upon their upbringing and their fears of the future. Edward is prone to fits of violence and is afraid of a premature ejaculation on his honeymoon night and Florence is terrified of sexual intimacy: eventually this leads to a confrontation that will change their relationship irrevocably.

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