This book was first brought to my attention when it was Shortlisted for the Baileys Women’s Prize for Fiction. I immediately grabbed it off the shelf, read the blurb on the inside cover, and read page 40, a tradition I have which helps me determine whether I will enjoy a novel or not. I immediately loved Sara Taylor’s writing style and knew this was going to be a book I would enjoy.
The Shore is made up of 13 short stories, solidly linked by each story taking place on The Shore, a collection of three islands just off the coast of Virginia, and delicately through shared histories and distant family connections, you are even provided with a family tree at the front of the book. The women of The Shore are the focus in this novel, we read their stories of hardship, heartache, fear as well as their fierce resilience, strength and determination in the face of abuse, murder and misogyny.
Each story demands your attention very quickly, you remain engrossed throughout and by the end you need to know more. You then turn the page and experience a flutter of excitement for the next story!
I usually struggle with short stories, I find that there is either not enough information, or so much that the plot suffers. Taylor finds a balance between offering enough background detail and descriptions that you feel like you are on The Shore, as well as significant enough plot lines that you are drawn along effortlessly. Saying that, some aspects feel a little bit forced, some unlikely and some a little bit confusing.
My advice, if at any point you are missing a character or upset that you feel the story has just dropped off, persevere! It will be well worth it. Sara Taylor is a promising and exciting new author, I can’t wait to see what comes next from her!
By Amanda Patterson (Ruislip Manor Library)