Wednesday, September 05, 2007

a little less conversation, a little more action

I would class myself as a fan of Ian McEwan - granted On Chesil Beach seems a little slim for the Booker criteria, but I was pleased to see it waiting on my pile. The plot premise was a good one - an early sixties couple in their honeymoon suite, about to consummate their marriage, with all the hopes and fears that entails. But it fell sadly short of the mark. Admittedly there was a fair dousing of striking writing, the kind I’ve come to expect from McEwan -

‘Entering the bedroom, she had plunged into an uncomfortable, dream-like condition that encumbered her like an old-fashioned diving suit in deep water. Her thoughts did not seem her own - they were piped down to her, thoughts instead of oxygen.’

But that’s about as far as the good marks go. I found Florence and Edward largely ridiculous people. Products of their time, they show how love doesn’t always feed lust, that what may be natural doesn’t always come easily and that sex is nothing like they show in the movies. Perhaps I too am a product of my time - a snakebite snog to the B52’s - but I couldn’t help giggling at Florence’s fears of ‘the close embrace’.

On the cusp of personal and sexual liberation, a decade of new freedoms and fun to come, I somehow doubt these two would know how to enjoy it if it bit them on the arse. A spark of possibility and hopes glimmers when Edward starts to give vent to his angry side -

‘the beginnings of a darkening of mood, a darker reckoning, a trace of poison that even now was branching through his being. Anger. The demon he had kept down earlier when he thought his patience was about to break.’

But fizzles out as quickly as it ignites. More lasting was my rage at his choice of white wine to go with the beef!

A neat little afternoon read, there was a strong sense of momentum throughout the novel, steady progress that builds as we are carried along, to learn how they came to this moment. This effectively mirrors the sex that so unnerves Florence, the dreaded one-thing-leads-to-another. But sadly, before we reach the end, Mr McEwan himself falls foul of Edwards greatest fear, that of ‘arriving too soon’. He spills his conclusion rapidly and messily over the last few pages - leaving me unsatisfied and unimpressed.

1 comment:

dandelion said...

oh, the title of this post made me laugh a lot ;)...x