The Shore by Sara Taylor
|The Shore by Sara Taylor|
|Category: Short Stories|
|Reviewer: Sue Magee|
|Summary: A series of interlinked short stories, ranging in time from the nineteenth to the twenty-second century, all set on a series of islands off the coast of virginia and featuring strong women. The quality of the writing shines out from every one.|
|Buy? Yes||Borrow? Yes|
|Pages: 320/9h28m||Date: February 2016|
|Publisher: Windmill Books|
|External links: Author's website|
The first story we hear from the Shore, a group of isolated islands off the coast of Virginia, is from Chloe, who's telling her sister about what she overheard in the store. She'd been there buying chicken necks so that they could go crabbing. Normally they used bacon rinds, but they'd already eaten those. Cabel Bloxom had been murdered and they done cut his thang clean off. The girls are motherless and Chloe is fiercely protective of her little sister Renee. She's the first of the strong women we'll encounter in these stories, which interlink to give a greater picture.
The first thing which struck me was the quality of the writing: it's exuberant, magical and incredibly ambitious, but Sara Taylor pulls it off with style. Each story is complete in itself - you could read it without reading any of the others and get a great deal from it, but there are elegant references back and forwards in time which you can - or will later - link. There's a copper brandy still which appears in 1919 which will make a man happy more than two hundred years later. Small connections will be made, relationships will become clear, reactions will be traceable back to actions. It's clever, but not overly so - it simply leaves you feeling that something has been well done.
Short stories often suffer from a lack of characterisation, but I was surprised by the extent to which I felt a sense of engagement with all of the characters, from Medora Slater, the matriarch of the Lumsden family through to the descendants of the Day family some three hundred years later. I could spend a great deal of time telling you how each story reminds me of a different author, but such thoughts were fleeting as my overwhelming sense was of reading something totally original.
Location is often underplayed in short stories too, but the Shore comes alive in Taylor's hands. It's lush, but the occupants are not living well from it: poverty seems to be the norm despite the harvest which could be had from the land or the sea. The power of the elements shapes the land: high winds or rough seas can reshape an area and make it barely recognisable. The most enduring features are the marshes - and the wild horses which roam the islands.
You'll find yourself playing detective as you read. I kept my bookmark in the family tree at the front of the book - it made it easier to work out the familial connections. a map would have been good - but that's me being greedy!
I'd like to thank the publisher for sending a copy to the Bookbag.
You could get a free audio download of The Shore by Sara Taylor with a 30-day Audible free trial at Amazon.co.uk.
You can read more book reviews or buy The Shore by Sara Taylor at Amazon.co.uk
You can read more book reviews or buy The Shore by Sara Taylor at Amazon.com.
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