Friends of mine have been recommending The Beach to me for years. I avoided the film with the intention of reading it first, and having picked up a copy on Bookmooch during a manic period of book-swapping, this sat on my shelf for a long time. My timing couldn’t have been better, though, as it kept me engrossed for a 6-hour train ride to London.
The Beach is narrated by Richard, a 20-something English traveller in Thailand. He meets a mentally unstable Scotsman named Daffy who raves on about a paradisical beach, to which he provides a map. Intrigued, Richard takes a French couple along with him on his mission to find it.
Though often dark, Garland’s prose is fresh and engaging with modest flourishes that never detract from the story. Capturing idyllic vistas and tense action scenes, the characters are well-drawn and unabashedly defined by their status, relationships, and how they are perceived by other characters. It’s an absorbing and often thrilling read.