Hark! A book review.
“For a moment they lie there together, in their own tiny nucleus of heat and breath.”
Firstly, this book contains a great deal of emotional and sexual abuse so just want to put out a trigger warning.
The Shore is Sara Taylor's first novel and if I'm completely honest, it's pretty impressive. Saying that, I would definitely conclude that it is closer to a short story collection - rather than a novel - and I found no issues with dipping in and out, reading a chapter or two at a time. I am unsure whether this was intentional, but it definitely works. I am going to avoid giving away almost anything in terms of the plot because frankly, it is a journey that you need to embark on yourself. The stories come together and intertwine beautifully but I feel that it is very important that you try and keep them separate, at least in the beginning, to avoid becoming confused. Don't try to find the connections on your own! Stick it out and by the end you are left with an entire heart-breaking history of a group of small satellite islands known as The Shore. Taylor's intense descriptions instantly transport you to this desolate coastline and you can practically feel the sand and pebbles between your toes.
However, we aren't staying put... the plot transports you through time and space, jumping from present day to the distant past and the distant future. The chapters are presented out of chronological order which, although a little unsettling, seem to work due to the hidden links between each of the narratives, which of course become apparent towards the end of the book. The narratives generally follow many generations of two families which stem from a young part-Native islander and her first husband. A family tree is provided at the beginning, and although it doesn't include everyone, it does help to keep the featured characters straight in your head.
The overall narrative is - in essence - an unconventional love story. A love story between friends and unfortunate neighbours, but more conclusively, a love story between the islands and their inhabitants.
The main characters are complex, interesting and perfectly flawed. They take your hand and accompany you on a journey of every human emotion as explore their own links with the island, and ultimately, whether they should stay or go. Some chapters are obviously a little harder to swallow than others (in terms of abuse etc), but overall, it is a very enjoyable and unique read. A debut novel that was long-listed for the Baileys Women's Prize? It can only be good.
My only tiny issue was that I wasn't a massive fan of the ending, but you can't have everything, right?
DISCLAIMER: I received this for free through NetGalley in return for an honest review. This post contains an affiliate link.