Released: March 2015
For me, Sara Taylor’s The Shore was full of promise; a novel that centres on domestic violence and stretches through the ages. As a keen feminist and a huge fan of The Island by Victoria Hislop, I thought this book could be the novel of the summer. Sadly, I was hugely disappointed.
The main issue I have with The Shore is that it doesn’t seem to be clear on what sort of a book it is. Is it a collection of short stories? Or is it a novel telling the story of two families as promised?
If it is the latter, Taylor needed to establish the two families and the links between their stories much earlier than towards the end of the book, rather than just having a family tree at the front and hoping that will create the connections for the reader.
In all honesty, I think it would work better as the former – a collection of short stories – but in order to reach that point, Taylor would need to flesh out the characters and have it as a collection of the different types of domestic abuse out there.
This is what she seems to have been trying to do, and the stories are incredibly powerful, but Taylor has tried to do too much all at once. As a result, the reader is left floundering, trying to work out who fits in to which story and whether domestic abuse is passed from father to son.
In terms of the content, there’s plenty of potential. The stories are beautiful and cover the difficult subject matter delicately and with great empathy. The first story pulls you straight in, while another one I enjoyed saw a powerful woman manipulate her need to marry to her advantage.
As long as you pick up this book with your eyes wide open to it’s strange format, you’ll find it an interesting read. Just be prepared to accept that you won’t always be aware of how the characters are connected.