The new one by Ian McEwan
is called On Chesil Beach. It's a super- slim volume, all of 203 pages. But for me, it packed a punch.
It's the early '60s, and a just-wed couple is sitting in their hotel room, having dinner before consumating their marriage. The story is structured so that as the meal proceeds, we get flashbacks into their younger lives and courtship. To really explain my feelings about the book would be to give to much away. But... she's a virgin, he's nearly a virgin. He's THRILLED to be about to make love for the first time. She is so concerned she's pretty much out of her body, floating above herself, making intellectual decisions rather than emotional ones.
I told a friend I was reading it, and he said the reviews have been mixed. (I haven't read them yet, but now that I'm done, I will.) My take, other opinions unread, is that the ending rings true, and that's sad. I bet there's a huge category of people who do not want life to be this way, for people to be this way. But they are.
Confused? Read the book. It's short, and then you can join the debate.