Published by Crown/Archetype on May 26th 2015
Genres: Contemporary Women, Fiction, Literary, Sagas
ARC provided by Crown Publishing Group
An ambitious, Baileys prize-nominated debut set in an unforgettable place, introducing a powerful new voice in fiction
The Shore: a group of small islands in the Chesapeake Bay, just off the coast of Virginia. The Shore is clumps of evergreens, wild ponies, oyster-shell roads, tumble-down houses, unwanted pregnancies, murder, and dark magic in the marshes. Sanctuary to some but nightmare to others, it's a place that generations of families both wealthy and destitute have inhabited, fled, and returned to for hundreds of years. From a half-Shawnee Indian's bold choice to escape an abusive home only to find herself with a man who will one day try to kill her, to a brave young girl's determination to protect her younger sister as methamphetamine ravages their family, the characters in this remarkable novel have deep connections to the land, and a resilience that only the place they call home could create.
Through a series of interconnecting narratives that recalls the work of David Mitchell and Jennifer Egan, Sara Taylor brings to life the small miracles and miseries of a community of outsiders, and the bonds of blood and fate that connect them all. Spanning over a century, dreamlike and yet impossibly real, profound and playful, THE SHORE is a breathtakingly ambitious and accomplished work of fiction by a young writer of remarkable promise.
The Shore is a collection of stories about intersecting lives. The chapters skip through whole generations and change characters. The thing that binds these characters together is their struggles and their location. All of the stories take place on one island off the Chesapeake Bay of Virgina’s coast.
“The Shore is flat as a fried egg; on a clear day from one upstairs porch it feels like you can see into tomorrow, and usually you can just about see the smart smear that is Chincoteague Island off to the northeast. We are one of three islands, off the coast of Virginia and just south of Maryland, trailing out into the Atlantic Ocean like someone’s dripped paint.”
The narrative in these stories (thirteen in all), is very descriptive. We get third person and first person accounts of events that take place on the shore starting in 1876 going forward all the way into 2143. The book takes a dystopian twist in the future. This book does not follow a time line that makes any sense. We start in 1995 and go straight to 1933 next. The families intersect. The beginning contained a family tree, (that would have been so helpful, my ARC had blank pages and no tree but I understand there is one in the finished copy), to help the reader understand how the families are linked.
I have to say that the struggles of these people left me feeling a bit depressed. It is hard to pick up a story and get attached when you know some horror awaits the protagonist. These aren’t run of the mill struggles that you can just brush off. The author explores poverty, addiction, and abuse and the main voice is usually that of a woman. Even with that I was compelled to finish the book because I wanted to see what the future looked like for this family, and this place.
The author is really gifted in descriptive writing. I was able to see, feel, smell and taste the elements described. This was especially real when the characters suffered. As a result, I suffered too. I so wanted the dreams to come true, but this isn’t that type of book. The women in these stories are all very resilient. This wasn’t a book that as much fun as it was an experience. It would be in a class by itself if I would have to label it. I would love to see more from this author.
About the Author