TITLE: Night Beach
AUTHOR: Kirsty Eagar
PUBLISHER: Penguin Australia
PAGES: 324 (ARC)
Note: An ARC of this novel was provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.
There are so many amazing things to say about this book, yet when I come to write them down all the think of is ‘wow’. A completely unique story of obsession and creativity set against the eerie backdrop of the ocean, this is one story that provides new hope for Australian authors.
I was on tenterhooks with Abbie at first; she seemed quite plain, not particularly likeable, but not overly unlikeable either. In fact, when her obsession with Kane came out to play I was caught between feelings of sympathy and just plain pity at this utterly hopeless lost cause. But, over the course of the story my preconceptions began to wear down. There is a depth to Abbie that slowly emerges, an inner strength that belies her appearance. Even the way she looks at the world is different, how she traces the light with her fingers and sees hidden meanings that are only visible to her. Abbie’s obsession is slightly nauseating, yes, but it seems to be a way for her to vent her passion in a world that entraps her, and as you came to see more of her the novel only became more captivating.
Eagar is a master at characterisation; every character is well rounded and overwhelmingly real. Perhaps the most poignant part of it is that Eagar does not twist things to make her story easier, she includes their problems, their flaws, and every emotion is expressed with such vehemence that you almost feel as if you know these people yourself. Nothing is hidden or glossed over, and Eagar isn’t afraid to include some slightly touchy subjects that many authors avoid and work them seamlessly into her plot.
Kane, a mystery wrapped in an enigma and the focus of our main character’s obsession. On the surface he is every twenty-something year old guy I’ve ever known; reckless, egotistical, and with an unquenchable thirst for life. Managing to create an exact representation of this is certainly impressive, and Eagar is a rarity in that she does not change Kane to make him more likeable. What really struck me the most was the accuracy with which Eagar managed to portray Kane and Abbie’s relationship. Unlike in a book, or a movie, 90% of the time the guy of your dreams does not like you back, he probably doesn’t even know you exist. The longing that Abbie feels resonates somewhere for every person who reads this, and that is why I think this book is so powerful.
Many reviewers seem to comment of the language of this novel, and I can’t help but agree with them. It’s artistic but not nonsensical, wielded with a rare skill that gives every sentence an impact. The descriptive parts of this book are clear and effective, creating a potent image that enhances all the emotional aspects of the scene. Above all it suits Abbie and fits in perfectly with her personality, not striving for a maturity or a voice that she does not possess. This is exactly the kind of way I feel books should be written, and I can only commend Eagar for having achieved this.
Night Beach is one of those rare books that should be savoured, only taken out at night when the wind’s howling and the rain is pounding against the roof. An exotic mix of art and romance, the psychological aspects of this book are what make it so enthralling, and I cannot wait to see what Ms Eagar comes up with next.