So we need to talk about On Chesil Beach.
This was a beautiful book which got a little too draggy in the middle but just when my attention was waning, it reeled me back in.
The story is about this couple on their wedding night and the girl says no. I haven’t read that many ACE representation books, but trust me, this book does a good job. Although it doesn’t say ACE representation, the female character does read that way.
Genitalia, intercourse, specific scientific terms, they’re all mentioned but it’s almost done so naturally poetic, that it doesn’t come off as off. It just goes well with the whole narration.
But there were bits in the middle that I found draggy.
I loved the relationships the couple had with their respective families. I loved learning about the family members and how they somehow shape our couple. And I also love the flashbacks to the relationship this couple has had in the past year before their marriage. What did kind of bore me was the political talk which were just talks about politics even though our characters political differences have already been mentioned. Some scenes with the family members were too dragged out.
But I don’t think that’s enough reason to hate on this book. I don’t understand why it only has a 3.55 rating on Goodreads. I don’t know why I do this to myself. I go to Goodreads and read the negative reviews and get annoyed.
Someone said they didn’t feel anything for the characters. I am annoyed. I feel a lot for our couple. In the rawness of the descriptions that almost leave nothing for the reader to imagine, I feel like I’ve been thrust into the shoes of these characters and unable to get out – still not a good reason to use the word ‘thrust’ I guess. But this book is uncomfortable. It’s so uncomfortable and raw that it invokes a visceral reaction. It demands a visceral reaction. The sex in this book is really uncomfortable to read about because, unlike this book, contemporary media celebrates sex. We are so used to seeing characters seeing sex as an act of love, enjoyment, pleasure, that the idea that it is completely the opposite, that when you examine the act as it is, like what an ACE does, it makes you uncomfortable. It should. And I actually like the fact that our lady character, Florence, tried. She tried to say yes and I don’t think she gets the recognition that she deserves for that.
And another critique was that the story happens in the heads of our characters. Normally, I do not like books that spend too much time in characters’ heads, but this one just worked for me. It worked because the subject matter wasn’t in the category of ‘okay-to-discuss’ for it’s set in a time (1960s) where sex is still something you don’t openly talk about. So it makes sense. But some commenters mention that they can’t believe people didn’t talk about sex in 1960s. As an Indian, I’ll have you know, we don’t talk about sex in 2018 – not speaking for all, but definitely a sizeable number. Hah. Some people just don’t. It’s not a ‘time’ thing, it’s not even a ‘culture’ thing, it’s a personal choice. Are you comfortable with it? Because Florence and her friends did have conversations about sex just as how Edward, her groom, had discussions with his friends. Florence was just not comfortable talking about it to Edward and Edward sensing her reluctance was made to feel uncomfortable to talk about it too. I do feel for Edward though. But Florence is BAE.
I really liked this book. It was a quick read at a little over 200 hundred pages. Have I mentioned that I really liked this book? Cause I do.