Tuesday, 5 February 2008

ON CHESIL BEACH


I have just finished reading “On Chesil Beach” by Ian McEwan. It is a beautifully crafted book, with an ending I had not anticipated and at only 160 pages it is relatively short (the key to a successful book according to one of my colleagues who, I suspect, dislikes reading).

The downfall of the two protagonists lies in their inability to communicate, something they appear to regret indefinitely. An ability to communicate effectively lies at the heart of every good relationship and frequently an inability or reticence to speak up can destroy a marriage. Burying heads in the sand and suppressing feelings never resolves conflicts and eventually in anger or frustration the whole relationship can shatter, sometimes on the back of an almighty argument but other times with an enormous sulk.

On Chesil Beach, Edward and Florence fail to support and reassure each other. They fail at what they most want to achieve. Their self –pride injured, hurting and in pain, they each accuse, goad and humiliate the other. They become trapped in a dialogue over which they have no control and, responding in anger, automatically play the parts of sparring partners. Losing all self control they utter words they cannot help but which they regret forever.

Yes Florence apologises, but only as she turns and lingers before moving on. Edward fails to seize the opportunity to forgive, to support, to reassure. Pride intervenes and the opportunity to make amends or resolve the situation is lost.

Young, immature, and innocent, they are unable to respond effectively to the other or communicate their feelings. What exists between them is destroyed as a result and yet it need not have been that way, indeed it ought not to have been so.

In fiction reality is suspended. McEwan is a master of his art and even a seasoned divorce lawyer like myself didn’t foresee the devastation.

6 comments:

loving my life said...

Good evening,
I was looking for direction tonight and I found your blog. This sounds like the story of my soon to be ex and I. Wow I will be back, love your site!

Mr Pineapples said...

hey jude

Mr P - used to like Ian McEwan - but went off him a few years back.

He seems such a shallow writer; and certainly not booker prize material.

"Child In Time" was pretty good - but stuff after that? Forget it.

But glad you liked the last book.

Ps - fancy a curry one night?

Judith said...

Mr P
I haven't eaten curry since I returned from India - too much of a good thing and all that but thanks for your kind offer.

Mr Pineapples said...

But Jude...how can you turn down Mr P? P is offering to take you out for a curry and a glass of Blue Nun !!

You have declined.

The World is amazed.

To be fancied by Mr P - is an Honour.

Judith said...

Guess it could be something to do with your taste in wine, Mr P.

Tulsa Divorce Attorney said...

Sounds like a good read...