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It is 1962 when Edward and Florence, 23 and 22 respectively, marry and repair to a hotel on the Dorset coast for their honeymoon. They are both virgins, both apprehensive about what's next and in Florence's case, utterly and blindly terrified and repelled by the little she knows. Through a tense dinner in their room, because Florence has decided that the weather is not fine enough to dine on the terrace, they are attended by two local boys acting as waiters. The cameo appearances of the boys and Edward and Florence's parents and siblings serve only to underline the emotional isolation of the two principals. Florence says of herself: "...she lacked some simple mental trick that everyone else had, a mechanism so ordinary that no one ever mentioned it, an immediate sensual connection to people and events, and to her own needs and desires...."
They are on the cusp of a rather ordinary marital undertaking in differing states of readiness, willingness and ardor. McEwan says: "Where he merely suffered conventional first-night nerves, she experienced a visceral dread, a helpless disgust as palpable as seasickness." Edward, having denied himself even the release of self-pleasuring for a week, in order to be tip-top for Florence, is mentally pawing the ground. His sensitivity keeps him from being obvious, but he is getting anxious. Florence, on the other hand, knows that she is not capable of the kind of arousal that will make any of this easy. She has held Edward off for a year, and now the reckoning is upon her.
McEwan is the master of the defining moment, that place and time when, once it has taken place, nothing will ever be the same after it. It does not go well and Florence flees the room. "As she understood it, there were no words to name what had happened, there existed no shared language in which two sane adults could describe such events to each other." Edward eventually follows her and they have a poignant and painful conversation where accusations are made, ugly things are said and roads are taken from which, in the case of these two, the way back cannot be found. Late in Edward's life he realizes: "Love and patience--if only he had them both at once--would surely have seen them both through." This beautifully told sad story could have been conceived and written only by Ian McEwan. --Valerie Ryan --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.
McEwan sets the stage for the outcome well along in the book, and perceptive readers will see it. Just the same, McEwan beautifully and accurately describes the interaction of an... Read morePublished 1 month ago by William W. B. Veale
This book is very easy to read, but in that simplicity there is a whole realm of thought and intrigue. Read morePublished 1 month ago by K.N.R.
Beautifully written book. Very fast read (200 small pages). As one reviewer said, "turns a single day into a nearly twenty-four hours emblematic of an entire era. Read morePublished 1 month ago by K. Dieng
I love some of Ian McEwan's books, but this one seems to be too anachronistic and too vague (without any psychological depth), at least for me to really speak highly of it. Read morePublished 2 months ago by min
A novella that covers the entire lifetime of an ordinary man whose time was more or less defined by an event at the locale in the book's title. Read morePublished 2 months ago by Hathaway
A must read for all newly weds . A beautiful twist a and powerful theme at the end of bookPublished 3 months ago by shyam s vather
After reading and enjoying McEwan's The Children Act, I was hungry for more of his beautiful prose and cool, almost observational, storytelling. Read morePublished 4 months ago by JulieAnn Carter-Winward
Nothing about this book engaged me, neither the story, nor the writing. There was something artificial about it, a contrived air of detachment or a failure to get across any sense... Read morePublished 5 months ago by Ulys