The Shore by Sara Taylor: A Gritty Multi-Generational Family Saga

Posted May 22, 2015 by LeahAdmin in Reviews / 9 Comments

Book Review: The Shore by Sara Taylor
The Shore by Sara Taylor
Published by Hogarth on May 26, 2015
Pages: 304
Genres: Literary Fiction
Source: Publisher
Buy on The Book Depository

Off the coast of Virginia, a cluster of barrier islands called the Shore are home to both millionaires with their yachts and blue-collar workers leading hard-scrabble lives — and as in many small, isolated communities, nearly all of the locals are related to each other on some branch of the gnarled, sprawling family tree. The Shore by Sara Taylor spans generations as it tells the story of two families that are both haunted by and irrevocably tied to their marshy patch of earth pitched between the mainland and the wild sea.

We meet a wide range of characters, including a 19th century matriarch who masterminds a marriage that takes from her mainland home, only to find herself wed to a man who wants her dead; a young girl who takes justice into her own hands when tormented by her meth-addicted father and a dangerous neighbor; and a man trying to win the hand of the woman he loves in a post-apocalyptic future.

The Shore presents a bleak portrait of life on the islands; violence, drugs, unwanted pregnancies, and abusive relationships are the gritty reality for many of the characters. And yet, as some characters leave to pursue a brighter future, they are irresistibly drawn back to the place they call home.

“I hate this place and I love this place and I don’t know if I want to go as far away as possible or never leave.”

The cover blurb compares this novel to the work of David Mitchell and Jennifer Egan, and I think it’s a really apt comparison. Taylor weaves an intricate web of linked stories in the style of both of these authors. Also like Mitchell and Egan’s work, this novel presents an eerily prescient character and ventures into an unrecognizable future.

A novel as harsh and beautiful as the land it is based on, The Shore is an atmospheric ode to the unbreakable bonds of family and the feeling of home that can’t be shaken.

Disclosure: If you make a purchase through the link above, I will make a tiny commission.

  • Ha – I shared the same quote in my review (thought it aptly captured the overall point of the book)! I haven’t read Mitchell or Egan, so the structure of this one was pretty surprising to me (I also read it without knowing in advance that it was linked narratives). I really liked it, but want to re-read it at some point without the distraction of untangling the structure.

  • I cannot wait to read this. I don’t have a review copy, but I pre-ordered it (which is a first for me).

  • What Rory said! I haven’t been this interested in a new release in a while!

  • This book was SO good! Great review, and yes “gritty” is definitely a good description for this book!

  • I always love the quotes you pick out! You make me want to add everything to my to-read list 🙂

  • Nadia Santos

    Readers who enjoy fine writing, vivid imagery, and memorable characters should like “The Shore: A Novel”. It is a novel holding an important message. It is not a novel readers will be easily forget.

    Nadia
    Customer recommendations for Round Rock Towing company

  • This book was so beautiful and dark and amazing, oh man. But now the important question: Did you love or hate the last chapter?