Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Words Unspoken

On Chesil Beach by Ian McEwan

I've fallen quite behind on my book blogging, and this particular novel is still in my room in Iraq, so I won't be able to reference it so this one will be rather short.

The premise behind this novel/novella was very simple. It is about the wedding night of a young couple in the early '60s, both of whom are virgins. The whole story takes place in that one evening, though McEwan, of course, explains their backgrounds as the novel progresses. Both of the characters were very well drawn, and McEwan treated both sympathetically. Edward and Florence have very different attitudes towards sex and the evening, but truly love each other. Unfortunately, they are unable to explain their feelings to each other, and the reader has to watch as their relationship falls to pieces, all because of their inability to address some topics because they are shy/ polite and don't want to hurt each other.

I've also read Atonement, which I enjoyed and I was very impressed with how faithful the movie adaptation was. Unlike Atonement, On Chesil Beach had no clear villain; it was all about miscommunication and misunderstandings. To an extent, Atonement was as well, because the thirteen year old Briony wasn't a villain per se, but a misguided, though very insistent, girl (another thing I liked a lot about the film was the musical theme that accompanied her character - it sounded like a typewriter angrily and precisely typing away).

Anyway, I'd definitely recommend either McEwan novel. On Chesil Beach doesn't have a very complicated plot and both novels might be seen as slow and boring depending on taste but I like his exploration of relationships and human interactions.

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