The Shore by Sara Taylor

July 9th, 2015 kimbacaffeinate Review 49 Comments

9th Jul
The Shore by Sara Taylor
The Shore
by Sara Taylor
Published by: Random House
Narrator: Jenna Lamia, MacLeod Andrews
Length: 9 hrs and 28 mins
Genres: Women's fiction
Source: Publisher
Purchase: Amazon | Audible
Goodreads
Rating: One StarOne StarOne StarHalf a Star

An ambitious debut novel set in an unforgettable place, introducing a powerful new voice in fiction. 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.

As a reader, I am sure you often wonder what draws another reader to a particular book. Is it the cover or perhaps the synopsis? I was drawn to The Shore for a number of reasons. If I am being honest, MacLeod Andrews name listed as a narrator first piqued my interest. Do you do that? The second thing that spoke to me was the setting, as I am very familiar with the shores along the Chesapeake Bay. The Shore is a collective of stories and perspectives that both intrigued and frustrated me.

Caffeinated Aspects of The Shore

  • The Shore is a group of small islands along the Chesapeake Bay in Virginia and the land is beyond beautiful. Taylor does a wonderful job of capturing both the beauty and the ugliness in these parts. Through a collection of narratives, we hear stories about folks living along the Shore spanning some two hundred and fifty years. Some are from as early as the 1800’s before settlers took over these parts and others take place in 2143. What do you think; doesn’t this Southern Gothic story sound Interesting?
  • We are presented with thirteen narratives changing at each chapter and they are told in a bouncing timeline. Most of the tales revolve around two families, which began with a half-America native islander and her first husband. It was fascinating the way characters from one time, connected with another. My favorite stories were those of Chloe and her sister Renee and that of Medora, a half-Native American healer who tries to escape her abusive life.
  • The stories are dark, and at times down right depressing with glimmers of hope scatter throughout. Taylor did a lovely job of bringing the characters and their emotions to light. While I did not get to know all of them as much as I would have liked, I did connect- sympathizing with some and loathing others. The tale is classified as woman’s fiction or literature but it has a historical and dystopian vibe as well.
  • The narrators did a wonderful job of sharing these narratives. While I was disappointed, Andrews did not have as many chapters he certainly delivered. Jenna Lamia is a new to me narrator, but she captured both the tone and emotions of the characters taking their voices from that of a young child to a jaded adult.

Decaffeinated Aspects:

  • While I loved how all of the characters intertwined, the timeline had no rhyme or reason and made me crazy half the time. I was pulled out at each change of narrative and had to figure out what period I was in and whom the characters were. I think I would have enjoyed The Shore more with a chronological timeline.
  • The connections and links do not become evident until closer to the end of the book, and many a reader might become frustrated before then.
  • The Shore is dark, filled with sexual assault, violence, substance abuse, and animal suffering. There were some dark times, and revelations throughout. Some of the scenes may disturb readers particularly those with any sensitivity to the subject matter.
  • The tale was told in first person and third person perspectives. For some it worked and for others I wanted more of a connection.

The Shore was beautifully written, and despite issues, I enjoyed this unique, gritty Southern Gothic collection and my trip to the Chesapeake Bay.

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About Sara Taylor

Sara Taylor is a product of rural Virginia and home education. Between secondary school and college, she painted houses, demonstrated open hearth cooking for museums, and opened a café. At just 24, she has already completed her MA and is currently working on a PhD. The Shore is her first novel

Reading this book contributed to these challenges:

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About Kimberly
Kimberly is a coffee loving book addict who reads everything fiction in YA, NA, and Adult. She's a self-professed Whovian, Supernatural, and Sherlock Holmes junkie, She enjoys sharing books, tips, recipes and hosting the Sunday Post. The coffee is always on and she is ready to chat... Twitter | Facebook | Instagram

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49 Responses to “The Shore by Sara Taylor”

  1. Sarah's Book Shelves

    I can’t believe you listened to this on audio…I would have been completely lost!! I loved it too, but did have some of the same issues you did. The lack of a pattern in the timeline threw me off (I don’t mind jumping around in time, I just want some sort of rhythm) and I definitely had trouble keeping the characters straight, as my ARC didn’t have the family tree and I didn’t realize I should be taking notes until about 3 chapters in!
    What did you think about the final chapter? That seems to be a hot button for people!
    Sarah’s Book Shelves recently posted…Sarah’s Snippets Book Review: Summerlong by Dean BakopoulosMy Profile

    • kimbacaffeinate

      I have been listening to at least one audio a week for over a year now and I think that has helped me. Personally I could have done without the last chapter.

  2. Nick

    I understand wanting to read a book because of a narrator, Kim! My friend Nereyda does that a lot! 🙂
    13 Narratives? I don’t think this bodes well for me. I have a hard time keeping up when it’s 3+ characters, so 13 would drive me crazy! The lack of chronological order would also bother me a lot.
    I’m glad you still liked it overall, Kim!
    Great review! 🙂

    Oh and I hope you’re feeling better now! <3 Don't ever apologize for not commenting again!!
    Nick recently posted…Review : Ruthless by Carolyn Lee AdamsMy Profile

    • kimbacaffeinate

      :snort: yes ma’am. LOL Nick, I get horrible guilt over not commenting daily..but this last week has been seriously rough. I am still not getting better and have been resting as much as possible. I am glad to hear Nereyda is crazy like me 🙂

  3. Jenny

    “The stories are dark, and at times down right depressing with glimmers of hope scatter throughout.”

    Hm. I’m in a light, happy, fluffy summer place at the moment Kim, so I think I’m going to need more than just a glimmer of hope to latch onto. I think all the different narratives and the bouncing in time would be a little tricky for me too but I’m glad this was a solid enough read overall for you!
    Jenny recently posted…Review: Storm SirenMy Profile

  4. Laurel-Rain Snow

    I did not “listen” to this book, reading it instead, but it was definitely a confusing and frustrating experience. Like you, I enjoyed some of the characters and stories more than others. Chloe, Renee, and Medora were the characters I enjoyed the most too. That timeline was a big hurdle for me.

    Thanks for sharing!
    Laurel-Rain Snow recently posted…AUTHOR’S HOME PAGEMy Profile

    • kimbacaffeinate

      The timeline is where I think it fell apart. I would almost like to rip the book apart by chapters and place them in chronological order. The book does provide a family tree which may add readers, but I have heard even that wasn’t enough.

  5. Liz

    That definitely sounds like an interesting and unique way to do a book. Overall I think the whole thing sounds interesting, although the historical parts might make me skim a bit. Great review!
    Liz recently posted…Captive by Brighton Walsh (Review)My Profile

  6. kindlemom1

    This definitely sounds like a unique read. I like that it has some darker aspects and some lighter ones as well with the connection of characters between generations. Great review Kim, I can tell you liked this even if it was frustrating at times.
    kindlemom1 recently posted…Review: Thief by Tarryn FisherMy Profile

  7. Ramona

    Sounds interesting, but I understand your frustrations. Different narratives, plus the darker aspects you mention… I’m not sure I would enjoy it. You’re a brave soul 🙂 Hope you feel better! <3
    Ramona recently posted…Funny Grammar RulesMy Profile

  8. Heidi

    I have a feeling this one isn’ for me. I can handle multiple POVS but I do much better when I read it. I don’t think I would like the dark parts either. I much prefer something light in summer.

  9. Kathy

    I was just commenting to someone else that I have got to read The Shore, and it’s sitting on my Kindle shelf waiting for me. BUT, thirteen narratives?!? That’s a lot for my mind to keep track of, so I’m glad you mentioned that before I dive into it.
    Kathy recently posted…Mini Reviews – 2 Books, 4 StarsMy Profile

  10. Angela Adams

    While the premise sounds interesting, I have to agree with a few of the other comments regarding POV. It’s kind of like my grandmother’s saying, “too many cooks in the kitchen spoils the stew.” Thanks for the post.
    Angela Adams recently posted…Visit Philly…Where it all Began!My Profile

  11. Lexxie

    I definitely pick up audios based on narrators sometimes, because a good narrator is so important when listening to a story 🙂
    I think The Shore would appeal to me, sometimes, dark is good 😉

  12. Lorna

    It interested me when you said Chesapeake Bay-the county I live in borders the bay-only in Maryland. But when I read animal suffering, my interest left. I can’t handle that-no matter how good the rest of the story is. Interesting and well thought out review though 🙂
    Lorna recently posted…Review: Unbound by Cat MillerMy Profile

  13. Karen Blue

    I really struggled with rating this book after I had read it. I found parts of it brilliant, but the order messed with me. I would have liked to see the family tree that the finished book supposedly had. I don’t think I would have enjoyed it as much just listening to it. Who knows though. Your rating of 3.5 was really close to my rating of 4 stars (i don’t do half stars anyways). Oh well, it was good to read your perspective of this book.
    Karen Blue recently posted…The Sunday Post #43My Profile