Youssef Ousaid Ousaid de Basse-Ham, France
I think this would be a fabulous common reading book for first year college students. It is quick but wonderfully uncomfortable to read. McEwan allows readers to learn the thoughts not communicated between sexual partners. The surface story is about two newlyweds negotiating how they will consummate their marriage. However, the two main characters are really negotiating much more about relationship roles and control. Florence and Edward are finally free from young adulthood, but McEwan highlights norms that keep them constrained. They eat dinner because it is dinnertime and it is a logical thing to do. Similarly, they move towards the four-poster bed after dinner because it is that time of their marriage, and it is the logical next step. Even Florence follows the guidebooks of how she should act during sex, and Edward has prepared for a week to be the best husband he can be. Perhaps the best part is McEwan's ability to show the complex nature of Florence and Edward's emotions throughout the entire episode. They love each other, but in the act, they question their freedom as a married couple, the revolting nature of specified gender roles in sexual relationships, and begin to discover a positive sexual partner relationship. This book exposes negative sexual relationships in a safe and uncomfortably funny story, and it offers the opportunity to think and discover what a positive sexual relationship could look like.