by Sara Taylor
Narrator: Jenna Lamia, MacLeod Andrews
Length: 9 hrs and 28 mins
Genres: Women's Fiction
Purchase*: Amazon | Audible *affiliate
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.
- 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.
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.
Yep that is kind of how I felt. Parts were brilly, I was sometimes confused and other parts like the last chapter..ugh.
Thanks for the review. I am now hooked on audio books (thank you very much!) and visited Chesapeake Bay two summers ago. But the dark and gritty are not my style. But my sister LOVES these types of stories so I will pass this on.
I am glad you love audiobooks now too!
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 🙂
Sad;y there is darkness, it is realistic though.
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 😉
I am so glad I am not alone 🙂
I love when an author can bring characters and their emotions to light. The craziness of the timeline having no order would frustrate me. I’m glad that overall you enjoyed the author’s beautiful writing style despite some issues.
It sounds like the author did a pretty great job for her debut. I think it’s hard to pull off such a complicated premise and not have issues with what Angela says, “too many cooks” 🙂
Agreed, but she writes beautifully 🙂
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.
Yes and the timeline made it even harder
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.
Be sure and look at the family tree before you begin and refer to it often
That’s good to know. I’ll probably bookmark the family tree, then. Thanks!
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.
Oh no..I think your didn’t like aspects would be long.
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
LOL despite some issues, aspects were brilliant.
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.
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!
Not a good book for skimming, it is very easy to get lost in these waters 🙂
I’m glad you enjoyed it overall, but it sounds like it was extremely frustrating to listen to. I wonder why they didnt take more time to stick with the same perspectives and fix the timelines so it flows better. Least the tales were well written!
It was intentional, and in some ways I understand, but would have preferred different.
Kim, wow, with that many perspectives and a changing from first to third person this must be one heck of a talented author to keep your interest at all. And I know from experience a 3.5 cup rating for you is good enough for me to give this one a try because Southern Gothic is a huge fave. Thanks xo
Yeah, I loved aspects of this and the writing is beautiful but I was frustrated as well.
I’ve heard reading it works better but I’m still not sure this one’s for me in either form. Parts of it do sound good but with a jumbled timeline and the darkness element I think I’ll take a pass on this one for now. Thanks for sharing!
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.
This sounds bit confusing but also interesting. One for the list maybe?
thanks Emma…that is exactly how I felt reading it.
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!
Yes, it was such a shame about the timeline..I really think it could have changed the book.
There are a lot of elements I found through your review that make this an interesting read to me. Thanks so much for sharing.
I am really glad to hear that Sherry. While I did not love it I am certainly glad that I read it.
“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!
Not for everyone to be sure, but aspects of it were wonderful.
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!!
: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 🙂
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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!
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.
See I’d have picked this one because of Jenna Lamia narrating, I’ve loved everything she’s narrated. Sad about the animal suffering though.
LOL, she did an excellent job, so I can see why you like her,
I love dark stories with weird timelines. So, this book looks quite interesting. Thanks for sharing!
Yay..I hope you enjoy it Rosa, I look forward to your take on it
It sounds interesting but I think it’s too many POVs for me there…
The timeline made it difficult with that many povs
This sound dark, maybe too dark for me
Bits were very dark and depressing..but others held me riveted.