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On Chesil Beach
A novel by Ian McEwan

Dust Jacket for Jonathan Cape Edition The year is 1962. Florence, the daughter of a successful businessman and an aloof Oxford academic, is a talented violinist. She dreams of a career on the concert stage and of the perfect life she will create with Edward, the earnest young history student she met by chance and who unexpectedly wooed her and won her heart. Edward grew up in the country on the outskirts of Oxford where his father, the headmaster of the local school, struggled to keep the household together and his mother, brain-damaged from an accident, drifted in a world of her own. Edward’s native intelligence, coupled with a longing to experience the excitement and intellectual fervour of the city, had taken him to University College in London. Falling in love with the accomplished, shy and sensitive Florence – and having his affections returned with equal intensity – has utterly changed his life.

Their marriage, they believe, will bring them happiness, the confidence and the freedom to fulfill their true destinies. The glowing promise of the future, however, cannot totally mask their worries about the wedding night. Edward, who has had little experience with women, frets about his sexual prowess. Florence’s anxieties run deeper: she is overcome by conflicting emotions and a fear of the moment she will surrender herself.

From the precise and intimate depiction of two young lovers eager to rise above the hurts and confusion of the past, to the touching story of how their unexpressed misunderstandings and fears shape the rest of their lives, On Chesil Beach is an extraordinary novel that brilliantly, movingly shows us how the entire course of a life can be changed – by a gesture not made or a word not spoken.


Out of the Book: On Chesil Beach (Hudson River Films)


A film about Ian McEwan's "On Chesil Beach" from hudson river films on Vimeo.


Read Excerpts Online


The New Yorker published the first chapter of Ian McEwan's On Chesil Beach in their Winter Fiction Issue (December 25, 2006 & January 1, 2007).

Read the excerpt on The New Yorker website, or you may read the excerpt here in .pdf (courtesy of The New Yorker).


The Guardian published an excerpt from Ian McEwan's novel On Chesil Beach on 24 March 2007.

Read the excerpt on The Guardian website.


On Chesil Beach -- Audio Book

Unabridged audiobook, read by the author and with an exclusive interview.

(Listen to an excerpt)



For more information regarding Chesil Beach, please visit www.chesilbeach.org. In addition to numerous photos, the site provides links to and information about numerous organisations 'concerned with helping to protect and understand the special environments of The Fleet and Chesil Beach'.



On Chesil Beach. London: Jonathan Cape, 2007.

On Chesil Beach. New York: Nan A. Talese/Doubleday, 2007.

On Chesil Beach. Toronto: A. A. Knopf Canada, 2007

Aan Chesil Beach. Amsterdam: De Harmonie, 2007 [Translated by Rien Verhoef / Dutch].

Am Strand. Zürich: Diogenes, 2007 [Translated by Bernhard Robben / German].

On Chesil Beach. New York: Random House Large Print, 2007.

`Al hof Ts'ezil. Tel Aviv: `Am `oved, 2007 [Translated by Semadar Milo / Hebrew].

Na Praia de Chesil. Lisboa: Gradiva, 2007 [Translated by Ana Falcão Bastos / Portuguese].

Na praia. São Paulo: Companhia das Letras, 2007 [Translated by Bernardo Carvalho / Portuguese].

Ved Chesil Beach. Gyldendal, 2007 [Translated by Jan Hansen / Danish].

Chesil Beach. Torino: Einaudi, 2007 [Translated by Susan Basso / Italian].

Na plaza. Bratislava: Slovart, 2007 [Translated by Katarína Karovicová / Slovak].

Pe plaja Chesil. Iasi: Polirom, 2007 [Translated by Ana-Maria Lisman / Romanian].

On Chesil Beach. New York: Anchor Books, 2008.

On Chesil Beach. London: Vintage, 2008.

On Chesil Beach. Bath: Paragon, 2008. [Large print].

Sur la plage de Chesil. Paris: Gallimard, 2008. [Translated by France Camus-Pichon / French]; Cergy: À vue d'oeil, 2009 [Large Print].

Ch`esil Bich`i eso: changp`yon sosol. Kyonggi-do P`aju-si: Munhak Tongne, 2008 [Translated by Tar-im U / Korean].

Na beregu. Sankt Peterburg: Domino, 2008 [Translated by Viktora Golysheva / Russian].

Quexi'er hai tan. Taibei Shi: Shang zhou chu ban, 2008 [Translated by Zhongyue Han / Chinese].

Zai Qiese'er hai tan shang. Shanghai: Shanghai yi wen chu ban she, 2008 [Translated by Yuning Huang / Chinese].

Trên bãi bien Chesil. Hà Noi: Van Hoc, 2008 [Vietnamese].

On Chesil Beach. Toronto: Vintage Canada, 2008.

Na plazy Chesil. Warszawa: Wydawn. Albatros, 2008 [Translated by Andrzej Szulc / Polish].

Na obali Chesil. Ljubljana: Sanje, 2008 [Translated by Suzana Tratnik / Slovenian].

Sahilde. Istanbul: Turkuvaz, 2008 [Translated by Ilknur Özdemir / Turkish].

On Chesil Beach. Toronto: Vintage Canada, 2008.

On Chesil Beach. Stuttgart Reclam, 2008 [Translated by Barbara Puschmann-Nalenz].

A la platja de Chesil. Barcelona Empúries Anagrama 2008 [Translated by Albert Torrescasana / Catalan].

På Chesil Beach. Stockholm: Ordfront, 2008 [Translated by Maria Ekman / Swedish].

Chesil Beach. Barcelona: Anagrama, 2009 [Translated by Jaime Zulaika / Spanish].

Shoya. Tokyo: Shincho-sha, 2009 [Translated by Kiyoshi Muramatsu / Japanese].

Reviews & Criticism

Battersby, Eileen. 'Eternal Student of Extremes.' Irish Times, 24 March 2007: 7.

Adams, Tim. 'Innocents Abroad.' The Guardian, 25 March 2007. [See also, Adams, Tim. 'The Minute Currents of Tension That Will Change Two Lives.' Irish Independent, 8 April 2007].

Appleyard, Bryan. 'The Ghost in My Family.' Sunday Times (London), 25 March 2007: 1 [Interview focused primarily on Ian McEwan's family history]; reprinted as 'A Novel Family' in the Calgary Herald (Alberta), 8 April 2007: C1.

Chatfield, Tom. 'Snared by the Past.' Prospect, 29 March 2007.

'Beach Music.' Economist, 29 March 2007.

Ridgway, Keith. 'A Great Book about Bad Sex.' Irish Times, 31 March 2007: 11.

Shilling, Jane. 'A Halting Courtship Dance.' The Times (London), 31 March 2007: 5.

Freeman, John. 'Crossing the Threshold.' The Australian, 31 March 2007.

Renzetti, Elizabeth. 'In the Spotlight Again.' Globe and Mail, 31 March 2007: R1.

Walter, Natasha. 'Young Love, Old Angst.' The Guardian, 31 March 2007: 7. [See Ian McEwan's response: 'Novels Are Not All about You, Natasha.' The Guardian, 7 April 2007: 39].

Cartwright, Justin. 'Wedding Night Jitters.' ABC Magazine, 1 April 2007: 26. [See also, 'On Chesil Beach by Ian McEwan.' The Independent, 7 April 2007].

Kemp, Peter. 'Love in a Cold Climate.' Sunday Times, 1 April 2007: 39.

Tayler, Christopher. 'Christopher Tayler Enjoys Ian McEwan's Small-Scale Novel of Sexual Nervousness.' Sunday Telegraph (London), 1 April 2007: 40.

Anderson, Hephzibah. 'Ian McEwan Explores Sex in the Early 1960s in On Chesil Beach.' Bloomburg.com, 3 April 2007.

Collett-White, Mike. 'Author McEwan craves time out of limelight.' Reuters.com, 4 April 2007.

Mordue, Mark. 'On Chesil Beach.' Brisbane Times, 6 April 2007.

Harvey, Melinda. 'Inching Towards the Seashore.' Canberra Times, 7 April 2007.

McGillis, Ian. 'A Sense of Time, Place and Tragedy.' Gazette (Montreal), 7 April 2007: J5.

Tonkin, Boyd. 'Ian McEwan: I hang on to hope in a tide of fear.' The Independent, 7 April 2007.

'Pursuit of Pefection.' Scotsman, 7 April 2007.

d'Ancona, Matthew. 'The Magus of Fitzrovia.' The Spectator, 7 April 2007: 16-17.

Redhill, Michael. 'The Couple Stripped Bare.' Globe & Mail, 7 April 2007: D5.

Shriver, Lionel. 'Marriage Was the Beginning of a Cure.' Daily Telegraph (London), 7 April 2007: 26.

'When Candour Is Impossible.' National Post, 7 April 2007.

Walsh, Caroline. 'McEwan's Latest Sets a Puzzle.' Irish Times, 7 April 2007: 12.

Davidson, Max. 'McEwan Makes Misery a Delight.' Mail on Sunday, 8 April 2007: 61.

Fertile, Candace. 'Young Love, Old Terrors.' Edmonton Journal (Alberta): 8 April 2007: E10.

Marchand, Philip. 'New Wife Feels "Thrill of Destruction".' Toronto Star, 8 April 2007: D5.

Taylor, Alan. 'Let's Not Talk about Sex.' Sunday Herald, 8 April 2007: 28.

'A writer walks into a bar...' National Post, 9 April 2007: AL1 [includes interview].

Derbyshire, Jonathan. 'Book of the Week.' Time Out, 11 April 2007: 47.

Freeman, John. 'Virgin Territory.' Toronto Star, 12 April 2007: A22; also reviewed by Freeman in 'Novella Begins and Ends on Pre-liberation Wedding Night.' St. Louis Post-Dispatch, 3 June 2007: F9 [Includes interview].

Robinson, David. 'Separating Fact from Fiction.' The Scotsman, 13 April 2007: 4.

Sutton, Henry. 'Life's a Beach.' The Mirror, 13 April 2007: 11.

'Love in England before the '60s started to swing.' Irish Independent, 14 April 2007.

Leadbetter, Russell. 'A Stark Reminder of Less Liberated Ttimes.' Evening Times (Glasgow), 14 April 2007: 12.

Schiefer, Nancy. 'Exceptional Love Story.' London Free Press (Ontario), 14 April 2007: C8.

Gerstel, Judy. 'From Vows to Vitriol.' Toronto Star, 16 April 2007: B1.

Lewis, Roger. 'Love Ebbs Away on Chesil Beach.' The Express, 20 April 2007: 50.

Ford, Mark. 'Oceans Apart.' Financial Times, 21 April 2007: 32.

Tóibín, Colm. 'Dissecting the Body.' London Review of Books, 29.8, 26 April 2007.

Morris, Paula. 'Summer of ’62', New Zealand Listener, April 28-May 4 2007.

Aspden, Rachel. 'Their Generation.' New Statesman, 30 April 2007.

Tayler, Christopher. 'Fine Drama Centres on Honeymoon.' Times Colonist (Victoria, British Columbia), 6 May 2007: D10.

Austin, Mark. 'McEwan's latest written on ominous white sheets.' Daily Yomiuri (Japan), 19 May 2007.

'A Night to Remember.' Popmatters.com, 29 May 2007.

Merkin, Daphne. 'No Sex, Please, We're British.' New York Sun, 30 May 2007: 11.

Reese, Jennifer. 'Book Review: On Chesil Beach.' Entertainment Weekly, 1 June 2007.

Brownrigg, Sylvia. 'Cut to the Chaste.' Los Angeles Times Book Review, 3 June 2007: 2.

Caldwell, Gail. 'A Distant Shore.' Boston Globe, 3 June 2007: C4.

Cruickshank, John. 'A Fine Anti-Romance.' Chicago Sun Times, 3 June 2007: B12.

Dubail, Jean. 'Brilliant Novel Should Outshine Controversy.' Plain Dealer (Cleveland), 3 June 2007: M4.

Freeman, John. 'Talking with Ian McEwan.' Newsday, 3 June 2007: C28.

Herman, Carol. 'Where the Wedding Night Led.' Washington Times, 3 June 2007: B6.

Letham, Jonathan. 'Edward’s End.' New York Times Book Review, 3 June 2007: 1 [Also available: New York Times Podcast Interview with Ian McEwan].

Kennedy, Randy. 'Sex, With Consequences.' New York Times, 3 June 2007: 1 (Week in Review section).

Vidimos, Robin. 'Two Lives Struggle Toward Love in the '60s.' Denver Post, 3 June 2007: F11.

Walker, Kevin. 'Communication Breakdown.' Tampa Tribune (Florida), 3 June 2007: 8.

Yardley, Jonathan. 'On Chesil Beach.' Washington Post, 3 June 2007: BW15.

'Book World Live: Two Young Lovers Struggle to Consummate Their Marriage.' WashingtonPost.com, 5 June 2007 [Online Q&A with readers from across the U.S.].

Soloski, Alexis. 'The Wedding Stinger.' Village Voice, 5 June 2007.

Zipp, Yvonne. 'Two novels by acclaimed writers give beach reading new meaning.' Christian Science Monitor, 5 June 2007: 13.

'10 Questions for Ian McEwan.' Time Magazine, 7 June 2007.

Alvarez, Al. 'It Happened One Night.' New York Review of Books, 54:12, 19 July 2007.

Mathews, Peter. "After the Victorians: The Historical Turning Point in McEwan's On Chesil Beach" Critique: Studies in Contemporary Fiction 53.1 (2012): 82-91. Print.

Marco de Waard, "Redemptive Realism? History and Intertextuality in On Chesil Beach," in Rethinking Mimesis: Concepts and Practices of Literary Representation, ed. S. Isomaa, S. Kivistö, P. Lyytikäinen, S. Nyqvist, M. Polvinen, and R. Rossi. Newcastle: Cambridge Scholars Publishing, 2012, pp. 229-50.

Novels:    The Cement Garden    The Comfort of Strangers    The Child in Time    The Innocent    Black Dogs       
Enduring Love    Amsterdam    Atonement    Saturday    On Chesil Beach   Solar   Sweet Tooth
The Children Act
Stories:    First Love, Last Rites    In Between the Sheets   
  Children's Fiction:    Rose Blanche    The Daydreamer   
Screenplays:    The Imitation Game & Other Plays    The Ploughman's Lunch    Soursweet  
Oratorio / Libretto:    Or Shall We Die?      For You

Last update: 14 December 2014
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