In a snowy London, two women are in crisis following journeys that subtly intertwine. Other characters cross their paths in a web of storytelling that involves past and present, living and dead... Corinne, a faded blond alcoholic, wakes up in a prison detox unit to see one young woman showing another her self-inflicted wounds. Hours pass, snow falls and the women share their stories, revealing Corinne's tale of sex on a Greek beach in 1972 and why it helped her stop self-harming. Anthea, a self-styled `imperfect archaeologist', is studying oracles and rituals of the dead in ancient Greece. She is obsessed with a collection of bones she smuggled back from a tomb site. Confessing to a counsellor about extraordinary experiences that have challenged her rational view of the world, Anthea reveals a recurring premonition that threatens her with death if she returns to her fieldwork in Greece. Corinne and Anthea never meet face-to-face, but they are affected by each other's lives and choices. Their stories intertwine with a variety of characters who influence their destinies, including painter/decorator Duane, sexual adventuress Alex, Freddie the out-of-work musician, Mandy the shoplifter and Morton, who studies oral storytelling in Homer. The Beach is the first of an addictive series of books that follow a story of intersecting lives. Like a latter-day Arabian Nights set between Hackney and a Greek island, the tales are spicy and sometimes funny, touching on sex, drugs and the supernatural, with intriguing characters and an element of chance that spans this world and the next. It appeals to readers who enjoy memories of the 1970s as well as those who wish they'd been there.
Sonia Paige has always loved and written stories, but until now it has been a private affair, "like dyeing my hair blonde and dancing in the kitchen," she says. Following Pasolini, she believes that "the truth lies not in one but in many dreams". Her novel offers some of hers, both good and bad.