Friday, May 3, 2019

Six unforgettable fictional vacations

Chip Cheek's new novel is Cape May.

At LitHub he tagged six favorite fictional vacations, including:
Ian McEwan, On Chesil Beach

A honeymoon—the old-fashioned kind, in which a union is supposed to be consummated for the first time—is the subject of Ian McEwan’s short 2007 novel (which I avoided reading until I’d finished my own honeymoon novel). Set in 1962, right on the cusp of the sexual revolution, On Chesil Beach is a richly nuanced depiction of the wedding night of Edward Mayhew, a historian, and Florence Ponting, a violinist, at a Georgian hotel by the titular beach. The trouble is set up right from the start, with this perfect opening sentence: “They were young, educated, and both virgins on this, their wedding night, and they lived in a time when conversation about sexual difficulties was plainly impossible.” Too bad, because they are both hopelessly naive and shy about their bodies and their desires—their own and each other’s. The novel proceeds, along with flashbacks to their courtship, through dinner, their fumbling attempts to consummate the marriage, and the immediate and long-term aftermaths, and the awkward, endearing comedy of the situation turns more disturbing and ultimately heartbreaking by the end.
Read about the other entries on the list.

On Chesil Beach also appears among Alison Moore's top ten seaside novels, Radhika Sanghani ten top books about losing one's virginity, Ella Berthoud's five top books on love, Eli Gottlieb's top 10 scenes from the battle of the sexes, and on John Mullan's lists of ten of the best honeymoons in literature, ten of the best beaches in literature, ten best marital arguments in literature, and ten of the best failed couplings in fiction.

--Marshal Zeringue