‘Fess up! You’ve been thinking about the shore! Who couldn’t these past few days when it’s been sticky, hot, sunny and just perfect for escaping to the cool breezes of the beach. The Shore (Hogarth, May 26, 2015) is a chance for a literary escape to the beach.
I decided to read The Shore because I learned about it when we were still caught up in winter weather and the words “the shore” were all I really needed to make me want to read this book. I quickly learned that The Shore portrays beach living from a different viewpoint than most of us are familiar with: the people who live at the beach (in this case the Virginia beaches of the Chesapeake Bay) all year long, as opposed to the summer visitors. For the first three chapters I thought this was a collection of short stories that all had one thing in common: the beach where they occurred. But there is another common thread: all the characters are connected, even across generations. A person in chapter X will make moonshine during Prohibition and then in Chapter Y someone will find that hidden still in a post-apocalyptic world. Not only are the time periods widely different but also the genres…fantasy, romance, horror, as well as standard fiction.
It truly feels as if with each chapter you are starting a new book and don’t know what it will reveal. That makes it easy to read this book in bits and pieces since each chapter is complete by itself. Of course, I found myself struggling to connect some of the far flung characters as the book went along but there is a family tree to help you with that. This is not a fun, light beach read. The characters are all faced with intense situations and you will see the beach as a completely different place by the end of The Shore. Not only was this an amazing premise, but also a well-written book.
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.