Wednesday, July 04, 2007

Getting under her skin

Originally uploaded by todork
Coming back from holiday, getting back to work - never an easy combination. Moving in 24 hours from a nice cafe in Montmartre in Paris to the exciting world of quarterly budget monitoring takes some time to get used to. Getting there now, after three days.

Good literature helped the blow though. Ian McEwan's latest, On Chesil Beach, was next on my list after Austen. Expectations were set high after Amsterdam and Saturday where he proves his amazing talent of getting under the skin of people in highly different fields of life than his own. Especially the way he captures the mindset of Saturday's main character, a talented surgeon and a family man, is just out of this world. I forced my parents to read the book as I was convinced that it would impress them. I still remember my father's and mother's reactions:"How can someone, in another country and in another language, describe so well my way of thinking and reacting to problems?"

Look at the picture - that is Ian McEwan. He is a balding, white, middle-aged English man. Somehow it is easier for me to understand how he can write from a point of view of a middle-aged newspaper editor (Amsterdam), a middle-aged composer (Amsterdam) or a middle-aged surgeon (Saturday). But in On Chesil Beach he moves far away from that. His main character is a daughter of a good Oxford family in her early 20s. On Chesil Beach tells a tragic story of the conditions people married each other in the early 1960s, before flower power and free sex. It depicts the fear of intimacy and the pressure of performing right which destroys all possibilities for true affection. It is a sad, sad book - crying guaranteed for everyone capable for compassion.

On Chesil Beach is guaranteed McEwan. It is heart-warming, heart-breaking and very detailed. McEwan's description of places, clothing and people's professions shows the level of background research without the feeling that he would be showing off. I highly recommend the novel - it is of utmost beauty.

No comments: