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The City Of Invention

The book reviews of UK children's author, Brian Keaney

The Consequences Of Misunderstanding

On Chesil Beach - Ian McEwan

Like his earlier work, Atonement, this story hinges on an inability to communicate about intimate matterss and the consequences of misunderstanding. However, unlike Atonement, this feels like only part of a novel.

 

The central section - a blow by blow description of two sexually inexperienced young people on their honeymoon night in 1962 - is exquisitely written. It makes both compelling and excruciating reading. But the beginning and ending are almost set down in outline, as if the author wasn't sufficiently interested in setting up the situation or dealing with its resolution.

 

For me, therefore, it was a fundamentally unsatisfactory read, even though I have to applaud the clinical precision with which McEwan takes apart embarassment.