Saturday, November 6, 2010

On Chesil Beach

Poor Florence Ponting, disgusted by sexual intimacy, quite obviously she's been fiddled with, probably by the overbearing father, the hints are heavy throughout the book. I mean to say, what man takes his teenage daughter on sailing trips and hikes without chaperoning - and they never talk about it afterwards....
And yet all the reviews of this book focus on the decade - it wasn't Florence's fault her new husband's premature ejaculation caused such irrevocable disgust - this was the early Sixties, when young ladies did not lust.
Here's an extract from Love In A Cold Climate (one of my favourite novels) first published in 1949.
Beautiful Polly Hampton is causing consternation - she doesn't seem interested in love or marriage, her mother is at the end of her tether. Sweet, normal Fanny, her friend, is asked:
"Have you ever fancied somebody ever since you can remember?"
I was obliged to admit this was the case. From a tiny child, ever since I could remember in fact, some delicious image had been enshrined in my heart, last thought at night, first thought in the morning. Fred Terry as Sir Percy Blakeney, Lord Byron, Rudolf Valentino, Henry V, Gerald du Maurier, blissful Mrs Ashton at my school, Steerforth, Napoleon, the guard on the 4.45, image had succeeded image...
Fast Mrs Chaddesley Corbett agrees. "From kiddie car to hearse, I couldn't know it better. After all what would there be to think about when one's alone otherwise?"
Florence Ponting was revolted by intimacy - just as Polly Hampton was and Fanny's cousin Linda - because they'd been fiddled with when they were young teenagers.

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