"Chesil Beach" is a novel written by the English author Ian McEwan. The book was published in 2007
The book is set in the summer of 1962, in a small hotel in Dorset County, on Chesil Beach.
Here, a young couple is preparing to have their first wedding night. Florence Ponting and Edward Mayhew, in their early twenties, are deeply in love with each other and absolutely terrified of what should happen that night. The first part of the novel focuses on the present, on the nervous expectation that overwhelms the newlyweds during the dinner they eat in the hotel room, in the presence of two equally awkward waiters. In this prelude it is already evident how the two young people can not communicate with each other, the only words said are short declarations of love, which become a sort of grip against the unconfessable fear of the physical act that awaits them.
If Edward is afraid of being too impetuous and of "ending too quickly", Florence is paralyzed by the fear of disappointing her young husband and the shame and disgust aroused in her even by the thought of sex. A physical and psychological repulsion, that of Florence, on which it weighs a prude and bourgeois education, but also the shadow of sexual abuse suffered by the father.
The present is then confused with the past, with memories of the first meeting between Edward and Florence, of the first tender moments between the two, who will pause to reflect on their respective families, absolutely different from each other: that of Florence altolocata, with a intellectual and detached mother, and that of Edward, carried forward by his father because his mother, due to mental problems, lives in a world of his own; but the two young people will also reflect on their future ambitions: Edward, just graduated, would like to write history books rather than work in the company of Florence's father, who is instead a violinist and does not ask anything else but to live with and for his music.