<b>Sukey's favorite</b> It's no surprise that <b>On Chesil Beach</b>, Ian McEwan's latest novel, is masterful, beautifully written and very affecting. What is surprising is that McEwan is a brilliant performer of his own brilliant work. His unhurried tempo and smooth, quietly nuanced, quasi-detached delivery mirrors his elegant prose, belying the catastrophic emotional intensity of his two struggling characters on one fateful night. Edward and Florence, just married that morning, are in the honeymoon suite on Chesil Beach. It's 1962, but for these two it seems more like 1862 They were young, educated and both virgins on this their wedding night, and they lived in a time when a conversation about sexual difficulties was plainly impossible. As they toy with their overcooked beef and veg, both anticipating the next event in very different ways, they reveal themselves to us, she a dedicated, talented violinist, he a country boy, newly graduated with a first in history, both sure that this marriage, this night will make them free and grown-up. What happens? Well, you'll be there up-close and upset, then a bit removed, looking back with just a touch of what-could-have-been nostalgia. It's a small gem of a novel, perfectly rendered as an audio presentation.

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