The Shore by Sara Taylor
Published by William Heinemann
19th March 2015
The Shore. A collection of small islands sticking out from the coast of Virginia into the Atlantic Ocean that has been home to generations of fierce and resilient women. Sanctuary to some but nightmare to others, it’s a place they’ve inhabited, fled, and returned to for hundreds of years. From a brave girl’s determination to protect her younger sister as methamphetamine ravages their family, to a lesson in summoning storm clouds to help end a drought, these women struggle against domestic violence, savage wilderness, and the corrosive effects of poverty and addiction to secure a sense of well-being for themselves and for those they love.
Their interconnecting stories form a deeply affecting legacy of two island families, illuminating the small miracles and miseries of a community of outsiders, and the bonds of blood and fate that connect them all.
Dreamlike and yet impossibly real, profound and playful, The Shore is a richly unique, breathtakingly ambitious and accomplished debut novel by a young writer of astonishing gifts.
The Shore was one of the longlisted books for the Bailey's Women's Prize for Fiction in 2015 and having read it, it is easy to see why. A group of islands in America are home to women of all ages, from all backgrounds, all colours and creeds. They have one thing in common, the need to be together, away from the mainstream ways of society and those who live there.
In some ways, The Shore is like a collection of short stories, each involving different characters, in varying scenarios and situations. It is only as you read on that these stories, and women, become intertwined with each other as the islands call out to them.
This is certainly a powerful book, which at times left me feeling somewhere between very cross and increasingly empty. It's not a happy book in any sense, but a dramatic and moving one, as you experience and witness what these women go through in their lives. My favourite character was the herbalist Medora; I loved her feistiness. The Shore is a book that will remain with me because of its powerful nature. I recommend others to read it, and share the lives of these women as I too have done.