The entire plot boils down to two simple questions: Will they or won’t they have sex; and, if they do, will it destroy their relationship? I can’t remember the last time the mere promise of sex had me as close to the edge of my seat as did On Chesil Beach. McEwan teases us along for 130 pages as tension and suspense build. I could not turn the pages fast enough as I watched Edward and Florence pick at their cooling dinner meal, speak to each other in fits and starts, struggle with an uncooperative dress zipper, and dart their tongues into each other’s mouths during a suffocating French kiss. Sex is the hoped-for happy ending, yet we suspect those hopes might be dashed like a cold-water wave against the rocky beach just outside their hotel window.
The full review is here.