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On Chesil Beach

Most of the first chapter of Ian McEwan's new novel, On Chesil Beach - it will come out in the US in June - was published in The New Yorker last year. The story of a newlywed couple headed straight for sexual disaster was as horrifying to read as The Silence of the Lambs. You wonder what on earth can happen next. A beautiful novel is what happens next. It is Mr McEwan's most moving novel so far. Until now, I've always had a hard time picking one McEwan title to recommend to readers unfamiliar with his work. No longer: On Chesil Beach is the place to begin.

In the accompanying essay (see link below), I have refrained from looking past the first chapter, because I wouldn't want to spoil the story. Someday, when I decide that everyone has read it who is going to read it (if you know what I mean by that absurdity), and the novel has acquired a settled reputation, I will explore the fifth and final chapter, which is thrilling rather than horrifying, and then quite elegaic.

For those of you who like audiobooks, Mr McEwan has recorded his text unabridged. I may just have to hear it.

On Chesil Beach.


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