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…
Author: Ian McEwan is an English novelist, born in Aldershot, Hampshire, on 21 June 1948. His father was a working-class Scotsman who had worked his way up through the army to the rank of major. He spent much of his childhood in East Asia, Germany and North Africa, where his father was posted. His family returned to England when he was twelve. He was educated at Woolverstone Hall School, the University of Sussex, receiving his degree in English literature in 1970 and the University of East Anglia, where he undertook a master’s degree in literature. The Times featured him on its list of “The 50 greatest British writers since 1945”, and in 2008, The Daily Telegraph ranked him number 19 in their list of “The 100 most powerful people in British culture”
My thoughts: I read this book at the end of January (it had been on my shelf for a decade). I read it in four days. It’s a small book of 166 pages. The keyword of this novel is nostalgia: it is an irresistible mixture of innocence and sensuality. I loved the effective use of flashbacks throughout the disastrous wedding night to show both of the key characters’ different upbringings. I liked the insightful development of the two characters, which I found touching.
This is the story of an unexpected encounter of two very young people (both 22 years old). Edward Mayhew earned a degree in History and comes from a modest family. Florence Ponting comes from a wealthy family, she’s beautiful, and is the principal player in a string quartet - she intends to pursue her classical music career.
After their splendid wedding in July 1962, they drive to a hotel on the Dorset coast to spend their honeymoon. On their wedding night Florence, although deeply in love with Edward, apprehends having sexual intercourse with him. She needs to overcome some issues to make this marriage work. Walking out on Chesil Beach, Dorset, they are about to find out things concerning each other that the stifling society of 1962 has prevented them from learning before. Now, is their honeymoon night to be a total disaster and ruin their marriage?