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Extended Audio Sample On Chesil Beach Audiobook, by Ian McEwan Click for printable size audiobook cover
3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 3.00 (27,437 ratings) (rate this audio book) Author: Ian McEwan Narrator: Ian McEwan Publisher: Penguin Random House Format: Unabridged Audiobook Delivery: Instant Download Audio Length: Release Date: June 2007 ISBN: 9780739343722
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A novel of remarkable depth and poignancy from one of the most acclaimed writers of our time

It is July 1962. Florence is a talented musician who dreams of a career on the concert stage and of the perfect life she will create with Edward, an earnest young history student at University College of London, who unexpectedly wooed and won her heart. Newly married that morning, both virgins, Edward and Florence arrive at a hotel on the Dorset coast. At dinner in their rooms they struggle to suppress their worries about the wedding night to come. Edward, eager for rapture, frets over Florence’s response to his advances and nurses a private fear of failure, while Florence’s anxieties run deeper: she is overcome by sheer disgust at the idea of physical contact, but dreads disappointing her husband when they finally lie down together in the honeymoon suite.
Ian McEwan has caught with understanding and compassion the innocence of Edward and Florence at a time when marriage was presumed to be the outward sign of maturity and independence. On Chesil Beach is another masterwork from McEwan–a story of lives transformed by a gesture not made or a word not spoken.

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Quotes & Awards

  • “Completely absorbing…Infused with a bitter poignancy…Intense and powerful…A masterpiece.”

    Philadelphia Inquirer

  • “A parable of failed empathy…Mordant [and] melancholy.”

    Village Voice

  • “A poignant meditation on love’s ebb and flow.”

    Vogue

  • “Quietly riveting…McEwan has never written more beautifully than he does in [this] melancholy and haunting new novel.”

    O, The Oprah Magazine

  • “Exquisite…Compressed, crisp, [and] warmly specific…[A] small masterpiece.”

    Entertainment Weekly

  • “Marvelously realized…Wrenching, funny, smart, and hugely gratifying in unexpected ways…On Chesil Beach is as merciful to its characters as it is merciless in its heartbreak.”

    Boston Globe

  • “Vintage McEwan…His finely honed prose is a deep pleasure to experience.”

    Chicago Sun-Times

  • “A small, perfect, haunting work of art…McEwan draws a humane, touching, sometimes comic portrait of marital misunderstanding in an era when so much less was sayable, or said.”

    Los Angeles Times Book Review

  • “Dazzling…McEwan treats [his subject] with a boundless sympathy, one that enlists the reader even as it disguises the fact that this seeming novel of manners is as fundamentally a horror novel as any [he’s] written.”

    New York Times Book Review

  • “Remarkable, engaging, and gripping…On Chesil Beach is not only a wonderful read but also perhaps that rarest of things: a perfect novel.”

    San Francisco Chronicle

  • “Heartbreaking…Breathtaking…Masterly…No one now writing in English surpasses or even matches McEwan’s accomplishment.”

    Washington Post Book World

  • A New York Times Bestseller
  • A USA Today Bestseller
  • An ALA Notable Book Finalist for Fiction
  • One of the 2007 New York Times Book Review 100 Notable Books for Fiction
  • A 2007 Man Booker Prize Finalist

Listener Opinions

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Bethany | 2/20/2014

    " How beautiful, yet terribly depressing, "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Brad | 2/18/2014

    " TBH, this was disappointing. I normally quite enjoy McEwan's books but this was decidedly sub-par. Yes, it follows his trademark style of focussing on a pivotal moment and the consequences thereof - but the context was weak, and the "story" almost non-existent. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Hollie | 2/14/2014

    " This was my first Ian McEwan read , I discovered it in the library. Yes the novel takes place over a very short period of time , but within that period major events take place. We learn about the characters through brief flashbacks in the book.After the short marriage of Edward and Florence we see how Edward appears to drift through life when everyone else has moved on.this novel is quite graphic but a good short read. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Kez_70 | 2/13/2014

    " Felt a bit like a Merchanmt Ivory film - set in the past and full of repressed feelings. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Nancy Rubin Stuart | 2/5/2014

    " There's no question why Ian McEwan is one of this century's most brilliant writers. This work epitomizes the stream-of- consciousness technique with rare power and drams. I read ON CHESIL BEACH in one sitting. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Natalie | 2/5/2014

    " This is the first book I've read by Ian McEwan and from what my friends tell me, it is not his best work. However, I found it to be a great read! The anti-romance of the story is just as moving/seductive as a good modern romance would be (just as most things which are supposedly opposites actually bear quite a bit in common, at least structurally and usually in content as well). McEwan is skilled at building up to a climax by way of suspending the present moment of the narrative - in this case, the ongoing emotional ups and downs of a couple on their wedding night - to periodically go back in time to moments in the characters' childhoods and courtship leading up to the present. Although the book seems to follow the route of a thriller in terms of structure (i.e., I was always thinking "background, background, background! But what happens on the wedding night?) the ending is full of surprises and even offers two climaxes or two directions in the evolution of the characters (Hint: "timing" - both authorial and in terms of setting - is everything). In this way, McEwan borrows devices of suspense and structural elements of thrillers to transform a character sketch (anti-)romance into a more compelling, page-turner, filmic novel that satisfied my desire for both entertainment (low art) and aesthetic pleasure (high art). His less-is-more writing style allowed me to be swept up in the character's thoughts only to realize after the fact that they had summed up some pretty hefty psychoanalytical musings in the course of their internal monologues. The best thing about On Chesil Beach is how I was led to agree with one character's disposition, only to, like him, later come to the realization that his decisions had not been for the best. This is McEwan's artful way of stirring up his readers and I effectively adopted his character's perspective and damaged ego after discovering how wrong we were. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Jared Sager | 1/24/2014

    " I really think the prose is quite gorgeous but I found the em dash usage a bit distracting and difficult to read. I'm really torn between a 3 and a 4 on this one. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Noreen | 1/20/2014

    " Hopeful and sad. Uncomfortable and poignant. Reminded me more of Saturday than Atonement. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 KayWords | 1/16/2014

    " I really cannot understand the reason why it's called a masterpiece. And neither I can find a reason why it should be read. Or have been written. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Stefanie | 1/13/2014

    " Or how stubbornness and miscommunication can ruin a relationship. Love is not always enough. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Selena | 12/22/2013

    " This was the second book I've read by Ian McEwan, "Atonement" being the first. Both were majorly depressing although very well written. Makes you wonder what small choice you may have made in life that may have changed your fate forever. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Rosie Shepherd | 12/2/2013

    " Enjoyed this book but don't know if it deserves such wide acclaim. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Sharron | 8/28/2013

    " my least favorite book by McEwan. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Monica Rich | 8/17/2013

    " Unexpected subject matter, beautifully written. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Kate Gentry | 6/2/2013

    " Beautifully written, as are all of McEwen's books. In only few hours span of time, the characters' whole lives are revealed. My rating is only 3 stars because ultimately I did not find the characters to be as compelling as I otherwise expect in his books. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Brenna | 2/28/2012

    " A beautifully distilled portrait of one event. On the dull side when it goes into the necessary back story, but satisfying. Probably not the best book to try out if you've never read McEwan before, but I liked it. "

  • 1 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 5 Stefany | 2/26/2012

    " Not very impressed by this story. The characters were dim. At least it was short. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 John | 5/24/2011

    " I love this novella. Plot-wise, it may sound like a dirty joke. But there's such real insight and heartache that you can't leave this book unmoved. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Rachel | 5/24/2011

    " It was a very slow start, but then it got better. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Beverlee | 5/20/2011

    " A short little book about newlyweds and words unspoken. Won't make my top ten list but it was short, easy to read and illustrates the notion that we shouldn't always assume to know what the other person is thinking or experiencing. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Maarten | 5/17/2011

    " Beautiful portraying of the characters, very real but also original.
    This author always leaves a posotive feeling behind after reading. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Ctb | 5/16/2011

    " Quite well written until the denouement where it seems McEwan grew tired of the project and began appending his working summaries to it rather than writing. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Toria | 5/6/2011

    " This is far and away my favourite McEwan. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Brad | 5/3/2011

    " Heartbreaking.

    Will not leave you feeling good, but so well written and executed. Would love to see these characters revisited although I don't think that will ever happen. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Susan | 5/2/2011

    " I loved this book-it's really beautifully written, a painful slow-motion, excruciating examination of repression and desire.

    Like an earlier reader posted, I also read it in one go on a plane from NYC to Phoenix, which I think increased my enjoyment of the book. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Cheryl | 4/24/2011

    " This is my first McEwan, and I will definitely be reading more from him. The story of how the events of one couple's wedding night changes their lives forever unfolds with such painstaking detail like brutally honest poetry. It's a heartbreaking tale that I won't soon forget. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Rebecca | 4/24/2011

    " So heartbreakingly sad, but such a wonderful book all the same! I just wish it could have ended differently :( "

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About the Author
Author Ian McEwan

Ian McEwan is a critically acclaimed author of short stories and novels for adults, as well as the children’s novel illustrated by Anthony Browne, The Daydreamer. His first published work, a collection of short stories, First Love, Last Rites, won the Somerset Maugham Award. Some of his other award-winning novels include The Child in Time, Amsterdam, and Atonement—which became a popular film.