07 November 2009

Details and Despair

Unofficial CR II, Book 1: On Chesil Beach by Ian McEwan

Oh Mr. McEwan, what have you done? I loved you so (until now) and because of our history I will give you another chance. But if a back cover says anything about a love story, I shall run screaming.

I forced myself to finish this, though I wanted to find my own body of water in which to pitch the book. Indeed, in typical McEwan style, all did not end in any way as expected, nor with happiness. But the leading up to the ending, all those words that droned on and on and on about almost nothing of interest, it really left me wishing I'd never started reading.

I suppose I should say something about the story. It's the early 60s, and Florence and Edward have just been married. Being English and in the time they inhabit, the couple have barely approached each other physically. The wedding night holds promise for what Edward has been anticipating his entire life, and what Florence has been dreading all of hers. What happens over the course of the night is drawn out for five long chapters - an entire book. Of course, some of the couple's history, family and the story of how they came to meet each other is covered - in entirely too much detail for me. But I'm sure there are those who would love this sort of tale, a sort of upper class prim and proper love story, with a few dirty words thrown in. Though McEwan never shies away from vivid sexual description, I rarely felt drawn into the emotion of the story. There were a few intriguing moments, most especially toward the end, but the majority of this book was for me a chore. And by Godtopus I'm glad it's over.

In contrast, I loved The Cement Garden and Saturday, and I look forward to going down another dark McEwan road.

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