I absolutely adored the book when I first read it many years ago, especially Ian McEwan’s descriptions of the ripeness of Robbie and Cecilia’s sensual awakening.
After knowing each other all their lives, on a sweltering day of growing agitation, Robbie concedes to the force of their unacknowledged attraction by ‘accidentally’ sending the wrong note of apology to Cecilia prior to a formal family dinner.
“The anticipation and dread he felt at seeing her was also a kind of sensual pleasure, and surrounding it, like an embrace, was a general elation – it might hurt, it was horribly inconvenient, no good might come of it, but he had found out for himself what it was to be in love, and it thrilled him.”
Cecilia is shocked by his note but his words make her realise that the friction growing between them is sexual and the cause of her frustration, resulting in ‘that’ scene in the library.
“Daringly, they touched the tips of their tongues, and it was then she made the falling sighing sound which, he realised later, marked a transformation. Until that moment, there was still something ludicrous about having a familiar face so close to one’s own. They felt watched by their bemused childhood selves.” Continue reading