This week I am reviewing The Beach by Jaye Frances, and interesting author who lives in Florida, USA. I personally think that her books are usually subtly different and a bit quirky, always an interesting read, I find.
Beautifully written as an allegory, The Beach subtly emphasises man’s controlling obsessions and the consequences, obsessions that will ultimately destroy us all, if we are not careful.
A powerfully raw psychological story about the harsh realities and consequences of exploitation, I am glad I read it. Over to you Jaye…
One of my favorite places to vacation is the beach. And I’m not alone. There’s something very special in just the right combination of sand, sun, and surf that makes the shoreline the perfect spot to spend a holiday—or in the case of Alan, the main character in The Beach, a lifetime.
When I began to develop Alan’s personality, I realized he was not going to fit into the majority of beach-goers who made their annual summer pilgrimage to the shore to bake in the sun and play in the temperate waves. Alan was a loner, a staunch individualist who preferred the empty beaches of winter, favoring a jacket over sunscreen. As Alan matured, he quickly became more than the simple sum of his parts. True, he could be brash and defiant, and easily written off as a reclusive non-conformist. But he was also intelligent and perceptive, able to rationalize his antisocial attitude as a response to what he saw happening around him, a defense of last resort over a situation he was powerless to prevent.
In the following excerpt, Alan is preparing to hang and display a curious object he picked up from the shoreline the previous afternoon. After gathering the tools he needs from a storage shed, he heads back into his house, ready to secure a nail into one end of the item. But the unusual material is resistant, and as Alan wonders what the container’s purpose really is, some odd things begin to occur . . .
Here’s an excerpt:
The next morning brought a clear blue sky and a warm breeze—the kind of weather that always drew people to the seashore. He didn’t want to think about it. Grabbing his light-bending novelty from the kitchen counter, Alan walked out the back door toward an old ramshackle storage shed. Providing minimal protection for a half-empty bag of potting soil and some replacement roof shingles, Alan also used it to store a few tools and some loose hardware.
He welcomed the opportunity to be outside, to be on the beach with purpose. Not to enjoy the tickle of the sun on his skin or to hear the soothing rhythm of the waves, but to revel in the sadistic pleasure of confrontation, to direct his pre-emptive arrogance at them, answering their questions before they could ask: No, you can’t use the bathroom. No, I don’t have any water. No, you can’t use the hose to wash off the salt. And no, I don’t know what time it is.
“Somewhere under the bottom shelf . . .” he mumbled.
Peering into the rusted-out coffee can, he stirred the collection of loose hardware—mostly nuts, washers, and bolts—with his fingers. “It can’t be too big, might split the thing wide open.” Finally locating a few finishing nails, he dropped them into his shirt pocket.
Brushing aside a thick blanket of cobwebs, he began rummaging through an old plastic paint bucket, pulling out a plunger, paint roller, and a broken hacksaw before finding the hammer.
The lack of a decent working area forced Alan to return to his kitchen. He sprawled on the floor. I’ll seat the nail an eighth of an inch or so before driving it deep with a full strike.
Estimating the center of the cylinder’s flat end, he marked it with a pencil, set the nail, and gave it a light tap.
Instead of penetrating, the nail bounced off the surface.
What the hell? Must be hardwood, maybe walnut or cherry.
He brought it up for a closer inspection. Although the nail-point had failed to scratch the finish, the impact had definitely affected its integrity. He could hear a soft hissing, as if the interior had been under pressure and was now equalizing with the ambient altitude.
“Probably been under water a long time. Got to let off some steam.”
Re-positioning the nail, Alan swung the hammer again. This time the strike was solid, with plenty of force. The metallic ping of the nail ricocheting across the floor was suddenly lost to the sound of escaping air. Alan jumped to his feet, concerned the thing might explode, or that the rush of leaking gas might be filling the room with dangerous—even deadly—fumes.
“Maybe it’s some kind of high-tech fire extinguisher, or a CO2 dispenser for making wine spritzers.” It was mere speculation and both possibilities were doubtful, especially since a puncture to either type of pressurized container would have sent the cylinder skittering across the floor.
With no reasonable explanation for its unusual behavior, Alan wanted it out of the house. Grabbing a broom he drew back, preparing to whack it—hockey style—through the open door. He focused on the target.
The sight made him lower his broom.
* * * * *
Alan loves the beach. More than a weekend respite, it is his home, his refuge, his sanctuary. And for most of the year, he strolls the sand in blissful solitude, letting nature—and no one else—touch him. But spring has given way to summer, and soon, the annual invasion of vacationers and tourists will subdivide the beach with blankets, umbrellas, and chairs, depriving Alan of his privacy and seclusion—the fundamental touchstones of his life. Resigned to endure another seasonal onslaught of beach-goers, Alan believes there is nothing he can do but prepare for the worst.
But fate has other plans.
Delivered to him on the crest of a rogue wave, the strange object appears to have no purpose, no practical use—until Alan accidentally discovers what waits inside. Now he must attempt to unravel an ageless mystery, unaware that the final outcome will change his life, and the beach, forever.
* * * * *
In the companion novella Short Time, you’ll meet a respectable but bored middle-class executive, who exchanges his future for six months of excess and extravagance, only to find out the price he must pay for his hedonistic indulgence is beyond anything he could have imagined.
Amazon link for The Beach: http://www.amazon.com/dp/B008X76CD6
Goodreads link for The Beach: http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/15824616-the-beach
About the Author: Jaye Frances is the author of the adult erotica series, World Without Love. Book One, titled “Jewel’s Reluctant Surrender” will be released Summer 2014. Her other works include The Beach, a sci-fi supernatural tale about the possibilities—and horror—of wishful thinking, The Kure, a paranormal-occult romance novel, The Possibilities of Amy, a coming-of-age romance novella. and Love Travels Forever, a collection of poignant short stories. Born in the Midwest, Jaye readily admits her life’s destination has been the result of an open mind and a curiosity about all things irreverent. When she’s not consumed by her writing, Jaye enjoys cooking, traveling to all places tropical and “beachy,” and taking pictures – lots of them. Jaye lives on the gulf coast of Florida, sharing her home with one husband, six computers, four cameras, and several hundred pairs of shoes.
Amazon Author Page:http://www.amazon.com/author/www.jayefrances.com
Goodreads Author Page: http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/5232105.Jaye_Frances
FYI: “The Beach” is going to be offered at a reduced price during the entire blog tour as a Kindle Countdown promotion through Amazon.com. Normally priced at $2.99, it will be only $1.99 from March 17 through the 23rd.