Saturday, April 25, 2015

The Shore

If you loved the movie Cloud Atlas, you will likely love Sara Taylor's first novel, The Shore. It too has a way of skipping around between various time periods and characters which are linked either by blood or place (or both), but without keeping notes on who's who and what relation they play to the characters in the other time periods, readers who enjoy a more straightforward, linear journey from point A to point B in the story may get frustrated.

I admit that I am not a big fan of the current trend among some authors to jump around time periods. That is why I rated Taylor's novel a 2 out of 5 star read on

I decided to suspend my need to keep track of who's who and how folks might be connected and just go with it. Taylor's writing drew me in and made me care about the characters in each chapter. I liked the fact that many of the chapters were seen from a variety of strong female characters. When Chloe, who opens the novel, reappears in the penultimate chapter she encounters Sally Lumsden who speaks with her about preparing for a coming apocalypse in such a way that leaves the impression that the females throughout the generations are the strong key to survival and redemption. I was disappointed in the final chapter, set 100+ years in the future, to find that did not happen to be the case in the end. (I was assuming "The Keeper" would be a woman descended from Sally.)

That said, Taylor paints an evocative picture of The Shore and its inhabitants. If you enjoy stories written with this sort of "time travel" narrative, I have no doubt you will find it a worthwhile and satisfying read!

Thanks to the publisher for providing me an Advance Reader Copy in exchange for this review!

From the Publisher . . .

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.

About the Author . . .

Sara Taylor was born in rural Virginia where she was home-educated. Between secondary school and college, she painted houses, demonstrated open hearth cooking for museums, and opened a café. At 24 years old, she completed her MA at the University of East Anglia, and is currently working on a PhD. The Shore is her first novel.

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