First of all I read about On Chesil Beach in the Times Literary Supplement, attracted to read the review purely on the basis of the title. We visited Chesil Beach, officially designated a Site of Special Scientific Interest, when we drove all the way to collect our cat from his birthplace in Portland. But then I became intrigued because the book is set in the sixties, though perhaps more Philip Larkin's sixties than mine, and explores the tragedy of a sexually mismatched couple on their wedding night.
Then yesterday I read a review of it in a blog, Eve's Alexandria, I visit fairly regularly. In the review the author, Victoria, says
what if her 'sexuality' is just radically different, what if her reluctance has nothing to do with fear or oppression and everything to do with preference and desire. It is this possibility that touches me most with On Chesil Beach: that both Florence and Edward are constrained and doomed not by their inability to have sex but by the narrowness of their sexual paradigm. Toward the end of the novel Edward allows himself to consider 'what if'; what if he had allowed Florence the freedom to accept and practise her peculiar form of conjugal love? Perhaps, he intimates, they didn't need to centralise sex after all. I find this a provocative and interesting idea.
And this led me straight on, remembering a post by Figleaf of Real Adult Sex where he discussed I'd Rather Eat Chocolate: Learning to Love My Low Libido by Joan Sewell. It's a very, very different book of course, but one which raises similar issues.
So I'm very much afraid that the ten books I would read are going to be delayed yet again. Well, nine of them anyway: I've shamed myself into starting one of them today.