Monday, April 23, 2007

Restaurant Tag and "On Chesil Beach" by Ian McEwan

On Chesil Beach by Ian McEwan

Category: Fiction

Format: Hardcover, 176 pages

Publisher: Knopf Canada

The year is 1962, the place, England. Florence is a prim and proper young lady, a violinist from an affluent family who loves Edward, a history graduate from an ordinary background, and is looking forward to marrying him and spending a lifetime together, but there is one small problem...Florence is repulsed at the thought of consumating the marriage!

I'm surprised she didn't think to talk this over with Edward before the wedding, but then again, this was 1962, before the sexual revolution of the '60's and I am sure it wasn't easy for people to discuss these issues then. ALso, she naively believed that loving your partner should be enough to make the marriage work. Edward, not having had too much experience himself had noticed her reticence the few times he tried to touch her, but mistook it for shyness. So they marry and needless to say their honeymoon (on Chesil Beach in Dorset, after which the book was named) was a bit of a disaster.

As I read Ian McEwan's thirteenth book, "On Chesil Beach", I had to wonder what Florence would have done differently today. Is a lack of sexual desire or even a repulsion of the act easy to talk to about now that we're in the 21st century? Are you considered less of a woman if you cannot bring yourself to have intercourse?

"On Chesil Beach" is an intimate look at a couple's marriage..their expectations, their fears and their frustrations with flashbacks to the time they met and were dating...these flashbacks (which I won't go into here) help explain their complex relationship.

Truthfully, I don't know if I liked this nouvella (it is only 176 pages). I think the writing was just a tad too perfect and exacting (every word in its correct place and not an extra, unecessary word) for my taste. The characters, too, were a little too naive, a little too believing, which made them boring. Also, the source of Florence's disgust is never spelled out.

I think this might have made a good short story...although it is a nouvella (176pages) it has the rare distinction of feeling too long and too short at the same time. Boring might be a good word to describe this book but feel free to disagree with me.

Restaurant Tag:

I was tagged by the lovely ml of
Zee's Space to do this restaurant meme, so here goes.

The rules:
1. Add a direct link to your post below the name of the person who tagged you. Include the state and country you’re in.

Nicole Tan (Sydney, Australia) Also, originator of the tag, thanks, Nicole!
velverse (Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia)
LB (San Giovanni in Marignano, Italy)
Selba (Jakarta, Indonesia)
Olivia (London, England)
ML (Utah, USA)
Lotus (Toronto, Canada)

2. List out your top 5 favorite places to eat at your location.

3. Tag 5 other people (preferably from other countries/states) and let them know they’ve been tagged

Chez Cora:

I would like to start with one the childrens' favorite places to eat. Chez Cora is a brunch place with many branches all over Toronto and the GTA. We go there early enough for breakfast and devour their delectable French crepes. My favorite crepe is the one featured here, the "April '89" because it's packed with seasonal fruit in a yummy custard sauce ( I tell them to leave out the chocolate spread) and I usually choose to have it in a gauze- thin buckwheat crepe. The kids love their banana and hazelnut spread crepe, which I will admit is yummy, but terribly sinful!

Lahore Tikka House:

As the name suggests, this is the place to go for Pakistani cuisine. It is located on Gerrard Street, or the hood as we fondly refer to it. I am partial to this inexpensive restaurant not only because of its melt-in-the-mouth kebabs and its delicious, fragrant biriyani, but also because my dad was born in Lahore and every time I tuck in to one of the delicious butter naans, my thoughts go my him and my grandmother in whose house I ate my first teaspoonful of butter chicken with naan. If you ever chance to visit this place, don't forget to order some Lahori Kulfi (kulfi is Indian icecream and the house special has malai (cream) and badam (almonds). I have to put out a grease alert on this particular restaurant because many of their dishes come swimming in oil.

Rose Garden Tea House:

This is the tea house at the Royal Botanical Gardens in Hamilton, Ontario. To be able to sit out on a patio right in the middle of some of the prettiest and most fragrant rose bushes in North America being served "propah" Earl Grey English tea, crustless cucumber sandwiches, hot scones with homemade jam and Devon cream and Victorian jam cake is a little slice of heaven right there. I love "High Tea" and never miss the opportunity to bring friends to the Rose Garden Tea House. If you visit me, I promise to take you there! :)


The Boujadi restaurant located in the Jewish quarter of Toronto is a MUST try if you enjoy Moroccan food. Heady smells of fruit, cinnamon and mint greet us as we enter the restaurant and soon I am attacked by a hunger so fierce that I'm literally gnawing on my hand till the chicken medina tagine arrives with the kafta couscous. "Medina" refers to the thick spicy onion/tomato sauce imbibed with saffron and coriander. All the crockery and cutlery used here are traditional Morroccan pieces which add to the dining experience. The Mint tea is to die for!

Asian Wok 'n' Roll:

is another family favorite because it serves delectable Hakka Chinese cuisine with a decidely Indian touch. Hakka cuisine is favored by most connossieurs of spicy food because it bursts with pungent flavors and some kickass garlic-chilli spice. Our favorite dish to eat there is the tangra Masala chicken, a lovely fusion of Chinese and Indian spices, and don't forget the aromatic ginger fish, it will leave you wanting more.

In turn, I would love to tag (in alphabetical order):

Bybee of Naked Without Books: Seoul, South Korea

Milan of Zzz's Creative Mess: Serbia

Radha of Petty-Change: Dubai, UAE

Tanabata of In Spring it is the Dawn: Saitama, Japan

Yianna of Karma Canyon: Athens, Greece


Anonymous said...

I read all of these restaurant reviews in blogs and suddenly want to travel!!

Chinese and Indian fusion food sounds wonderful to me. Lucky you.

Asha said...

A tag well done!! Man! I an still looking at the Lahore spread there,yummilicious!!:))

Book sounds gooooodd!!!;D

ML said...

Lotus, those restaurants look and sound wonderful! I'm so glad you did the meme :)

If I visit you, will you take me to all of those places ;)

Thanks for the book review. I'm going on a trip at the beginning of May and wanted to take some books along with me. Nothing too deep, though, but light reading. Perhaps not this book, though.

Sanjay said...

@Lotus.. Great post as always, wish you posted more often :)
The food part of this made me totally hungry and has me craving for more!! The best I can do now is go to the vending machine.. it sucks eh? :)
yum @ crepes. We had a French friend also a neighbor who made these at home, when we visited her. Simply delicious, you reminded me of those days. I wish we had a place like this close by.

@Tikka house, reminded me of the "hole in the wall" Pakistani place a few blocks from where we lived in NYC. The South Asian cabbies used to eat there, a sure fire thing that told us the food was finger lickingly good! I loved how you describe the memories of your family and food. That connection is very elemental and some how more real especially when home is a land far away from "home"

The tea house,Boujadi and Asian Wok 'n' roll sounds fantastic too!

"On Chesil Beach"..
I liked the premise behind the book. Human sexuality is such a complex and complicated subject and often taboo based on the time and where you come from to talk about. That being said it is a truly fascinating subject for few things drive us in life like it.

Pretty much all that the body does and feels is driven by the brain, and like you say it would have been relevant to know the source of Florence's disgust.

The questions you raise in your post also tell us why we come back for more to your blog. It's another excellent review, as always and thank you for telling us about this book and the restaurants too!

jenclair said...

The restaurant reviews made me hungry, too. Think I'll go get a very ordinary breakfast bar!

I agree that On Chesil Beach sounds like an interesting premise, but I guess I won't be rushing out to get it. Thanks, Lotus, for the review.

Lotus Reads said...

@Allybean ~ I've been to places that combined West Indian flavors with Chinese can get so creative with fusion food! I'm glad reading these tags has made you want to travel...why don't you start with Toronto? :)

@Asha ~ We visited "Lahore Tikka" on Saturday and I took that picture myself, there were more dishes but that's all I could fit in my frame from where I stood! :)

@ml ~ You said: If I visit you, will you take me to all of those places ;)

If you visit me we'll go to all these places and more! :)

Oooooh a trip! How long will you be away? Have you zeroed in on the books you intend taking with you yet?

Lotus Reads said...

@Sanjay ~ You wished I could post more often? That's sweet but you'd be bored out of your skull, if I posted more than once a week! lol

Homemade crepes, yes, they are yum! I have a crepe maker that I bought in Montreal eons ago but I think it is still in its packing! :(

"Lahore Tikka" started out as a hole in the wall, but they are renovating it into quite a fancy place now. I shall miss the old place, not to mention the prices! :)

WRT "On Chesil Beach", the reason for Florence's disgust with sex is hinted at, but it's not enough to come to a full conclusion. I guess today she could have used a testosterone patch or something like that, but even now I suspect it's very difficult topic for a woman to discuss.

Beenzzz said...

Lahore Tikka House and Boujadi are making my mouth water.! :)

You ask a very interesting question about sexuality. I can't think of any marriage these days that would survive not being intimate. That is a large part of love and bonding. To take that away would be pointless...why marry the person? You could just split the rent and call it good!

diyadear said...

all the restaurants u've mentioned just made me feel so hungry..n to think i had lunch hardly 1/2 an hr back.. im ever ready to eat biriyani.. u must taste malabar chicken biriyani a speciality of kerala..very noval kinda tag..
n as for the book, wish i had a faster reading pace.. i have soo many waiting in my queue :(

Les said...

McEwan is a hit or miss author for me. I loved Atonement and Saturday, but didn't care for some of his earlier works. I have this on my Amazon wishlist, but maybe I'll wait and just borrow it from the library. Thanks for your honest review. Sounds like a thought-provoking story!

Milan-zzz said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Milan-zzz said...

(I’ve made some quite silly spelling errors, therefore I’m posting again *blush*)

Too bad I just finished my dinner so I’m not in the mood to prepare something exotic ... these sounds so delicious!

:-) You’ve tagged me!
I can surely list 5 favourite restaurants but tag 5 person from different countries who are bloggers might be difficult but I’ll try :-)

J at said...

I need to get myself to Toronto, pronto! Your restaurants sound so yummy. :)

Thanks for the book review...I've yet to read anything by McEwan, but I've heard he's good sometimes...

hellomelissa said...

i suppose there IS such a thing as TOO concise! i loved "atonement" and the emotions it evoked.

you know me... i love an extra-long descriptive overload in my books, so maybe this one isn't for me.

Radha said...

Yay! I've been tagged. Will put it on my blog soon!! :)

Lotus Reads said...

@Jenclair ~ You're welcome! One never knows what one is going to get with Ian McEwan, but I saw this book in the "fast lane" at the library and because it was such a tiny book I thought I'd give it a shot!

@Beenzzz ~ Hi!!! I've always believed that bad or no communication in the bedroom leads to bad communication outside of the bedroom as well. But there are many couples who seem to do quite well without intimacy...maybe it's because they "both" prefer it that way? I think the problem occurs when one partner wants it and the other cannot or is not willing to comply. "Relationships" is a fascinating topic, isn't it?

@Diya ~ Malabar Chicken Biriyani, now you're making me hungry!!! Do you happen to have a recipe for it, Diya? I would love to try making it sometime.

@Les ~ Great to see you here! Yes, look for it at your library. It's probably worth a read just to see how McEwan is able to write in such a compact manner and still produce a story with so many points for discussion. I know what you mean by him being a "hit or miss" writer...I read "Enduring Love" and couldn't praise it enough, and yet, "Amsterdam" was a book I just couldn't finish!

Lotus Reads said...

@Milan ~ Yeay, so happy you're doing the tag! You don't "have" to tag five other bloggers if you don't want to, just give everyone an open invitation to play, if you prefer it that way! Can't wait to see the restaurants of your choice, Milan!

@J ~ Hurry up and get here! :) Like I have said before I'd be more than willing to give you a culinary tour of this city (what a legit way for me to stuff my face on all the wonderful cuisines here!)

@Melissa ~ Haven't read "Atonement" yet, infact, it sits here on my shelf loooking at me's been ages since I picked it up, even for a dusting! That's a typical symptom of a "too many books" syndrome, is it not? :)

@Radha ~ Can't wait! I keep wondering if you will have any of my old favorites on there?

Susan in Italy said...

Hey Lotus, you really are diligent. One post on two different themes. I've yet to do the restaurant review.

diyadear said...

lotus, will surely get the recipe fr u.. n lol at callin me a mom.. i have been married just 4 months,, he he.. sadhana is my neighbour ;)

amna said...

oh wow anjali - 3 out of those 5 places are my favorites places to eat whenever I'm in toronto. (Coras, Asian Wok and Lahore Tikka)
esp. Asian Wok n' Roll - everytime we get takeout on our way home from the airport.

i LOVE the food in Tornto!
Must try the other two places when I visit next.

Beloved Dreamer said...

Sweet Lotus I have missed you. I have been ill again and am very tired. I have not been out for dinner in a very long time. All of the food sounds so good
I don't know if I would like the book. (Books.)I just finished the Cairo Trilgoy and loved it. Now I am reading The Space Between Us.
It takes me a long time to read it because I sleep alot.
Hope to hear from you soon.


Lotus Reads said...

@Susan ~ You must hurry up and do yours, I can't wait to see which 5 restaurants you pick, I await your list with bated breath!

@Diya ~ Four months only? lol You're still a blushing bride then! :) Sadhana sounds so cute, you're lucky to have such a sweet little neighbor. Thank you so much for being willing to get me the recipe. Much appreciated!

@Amna ~ The next time you're in Toronto you will have to try Anjali's Kitchen, ok? ;) Seriously, you must get in touch, it will be so fun to meet you!

@Beloved ~ I am so relieved to hear from you my friend. I am so sorry to hear you're not doing well, but believe me, any note from you, even a small one like this makes me so happy! You will enjoy "The Space Between Us", you must let me know what you think. Please get better, praying for you!

Yianna said...

The fare at these restaurants sounds delectable! I especially love crepes and butter chicken (I am almost weeping now as I think of the butter chicken at a lovely family-run Indian restaurant in Raleigh, North Carolina, where I used to live. No lovely butter chicken to be found in Athens! Boo hoo!)
Okay, I'll try to come up with five good restaurants. Thanks for tagging me! I'll try to think of five blogger to tag too (but, like our friend in Milan said, it might be hard!)

Olivia said...

ooh! I love crepes, Indian food, Asian food, teatime...I wanna go to all the restaurants there!

Interested to read Karma Canyons review of Athenian eating!

Anali said...

Great post! The Rose Garden Tea House sounds wonderful. I love "High Tea" too! : )

Optimistic Guard said...

Sounds like those are yummy places to eat at.

Bybee said...

Damn, I'm hungry now.
Thanks for the tag. I'll work on that. I'm making my list!

The McEwan book (which I'd like to read; I've never read him) reminds me of a time I felt like that woman. It was 10 years ago. I was tired of the pill and decided to take the Depo-Provera shot. It worked in the obvious way, and it also worked in another way: It lowered my sex drive to non-existent. It was like being 11 years old again, and the thought that people did stuff like that was icky beyond compare. I couldn't even stand LaMonte's arm around me. Poor man. I later learned that this is the same drug used for chemical castration!

Lotus Reads said...

@Yianna ~

Ohhh, how I wish I could send you some butter chicken and hot,buttered,fluffy naans,right now!
Yianna, don't worry about not tagging 5 other I suggested to Milan, just leave an open invite. Looking forward to reading your list, really I am!!! I will be away this weekend, so catch you on Tuesday.

@Olivia ~

You live in the gourmet capital of the world I think...I would love to live in London, if for nothing else, atleast I will never run out of good restaurant options!

@Anali ~

Am a sucker for "High Tea". There are some lovely old-fashioned inns here that specialise in "High Tea"..pinkies up, Anali! :)

@Optimistic Guard ~

Look out for Radha's post...I tagged her to do her favorite 5 restaurants in Dubai, perhaps some of yours will be featured as well?

@Bybee ~

Thanks for your really informative comment. I have tried depo-provera too (once)...I do remember it made me feel lousy all over...weepy and sad...not to mention my hair falling out in bunches. When one feels so beaten down it is impossible to think of physical pleasure. But man, I didn't know that the same drug was used for chemical castration...Yikes...

Lotus Reads said...

@Bybee ~ And I am so glad you might take up the tag...I can't wait!!!

amna said...

most definitely!:) my next trip to Toronto will be in early July..

Arukiyomi said...

YOu mentioned that you weren't keen on the exact nature of the writing style. I wonder if you've read any Coetzee at all? Recently I read my first of his novels Disgrace and actually found the fact that he pares his writing down to the bare minimum fascinating. It's like he worked hard to put down only enough words to give you a hint of the meaning and this releases your imagination to fill in the blanks.

I'd recommend it as a very good example of this type of writing if Chesil hasn't put you off!

Lotus Reads said...

Hello, Arukiyomi and welcome!

No, I haven't read any Coetzee although his books "Disgraced" and "Slow Man" have been gracing my bookshelf for a few years now!

Like you, I find the art of being able to tell a profound story in such a few words, fascinating. Another good example is "When the Emperor Was Divine" by Julie Otsuka. With the Ian McEwan novel, it wasn't just the spare writing and the perfect prose,I found the characters very dull too.

BTW, I peeked at your blog and love what I see. When I return from my trip, I will visit regularly.

shnaggy said...

hmmm...that makes you sin when you are on a diet. i really wanna taste this yummy indian dishes.

Nicole Tan said...

very well done tag..the food looks great....but you forgot to link me in the tag!!! i started the tag... luckily your site was sent to me so i could see too and enjoy the food!

velverse said...

wow.. april 89 sounds delicious and I love the sound of chocolate :D *slurp*

And after that wash things down at Rose Garden Tea House. Wooo... The place looks so homely. Nice~ I like it.

Btw, thanks for doing the meme.

Framed said...

I simply need to visit Toronto.
Thanks for the review. I haven't read anything by McEwan but I have heard of Atonement and Saturday. Which of his books would you recommend?

Dana said...

Lotus, You have given me some more restaurants to try. :) They sound so yummy!!

Lauren said...

I love your restaurant reviews!! If you have a chance, swing by my site ( and add a review for me. Although... I'm not sure if I have any of those restaurants on my site yet (I Think I have Cora's). If I don't, I should add them!!

Lotus Reads said...

@Shnaggy ~ Thank you! Thanks for reading and enjoying the tag! Maybe you'd like to do one too?

@Nicole ~ I apologise most humbly. Not sure how I left you out. SOrry I couldn't rectify it immediately...I was out of town. Anyway, let me take this opportunity to thank you for such a great tag...I've been enjoying reading about other people's favorite restaurants!

@Velverse ~ How nice of you to visit and to leave such a great comment. Will be visiting you shortly!

@Framed ~ Lovely to see you here! I haven't read too many McEwans. I like "Enduring Love"...I thought the premise was a novel one and the writing kept me on the edge of my seat. Although I didn't care much for "On Chesil Beach" lots of other readers have enjoyed it so maybe you can give it a shot and tell me what you think. It's a short book.

@Dana ~ You're so welcome! Toronto has so many fab restaurants, it was hard to pick just five!

@Lauren ~ What a fab idea to start a blog of restaurant reviews. You can use the one I did on Addis Ababa, teh Ethiopian restaurant in Toronto. I'll swing by after I settle back in (just returned from a trip) to let you have the link. Thanks for popping in Lauren!

Andi said...

I'm still drooling over the thought of biriyani. I haven't had it in soooo longggg.

Mark Base said...

Looks very yummy.

Come over for a visit to Helsingblog for a nice gloat.