The Shore is a place of beauty and nightmare, of magic and perversity, of both horror and insight. In this collection of interconnected short stories, author Sara Taylor takes readers on a journey of genealogy that explores themes of family, the cyclical nature of violence, the importance of self-preservation and perseverance, as well as the complexity of what it means to love and be loved by others and by oneself.
Female characters are at the center of most of the stories, and the strength and vulnerability of the female condition is explored in depth. One of the most valuable aspects of the novel though is Taylor’s ability to shift her perspective from male to female, from past to present, from first to third person and back again. We hear from the raped and the rapist, from the abused and the abuser, from mother and child and from friends, lovers and cousins all to culminate in the telling of not only the individual stories, but the larger, over-arching themes that span the entirety of the novel.
In narrating The Shore in such a way, Taylor creates an air of empathy that would otherwise be vacant space. Because of the multiple perspectives offered, though, the reader is better able to gain access into the minds and spirits of characters whose connections to one another only ensure the reader’s own attachment to that character. Though this by no means absolves any of the characters of their often malevolent personas, and in some cases the reader is made to hate the already detestable characters even more so.
The Shore is unarguably a work of literary fiction; however, Taylor is still able to weave elements of magical realism, dystopian narrative and thriller inspired mystery into a number of her stories. Though Taylor is often successful in seamlessly shaping these deeper stories despite their more plot-driven impetus, the reader can at times get distracted from the value and significance of the story as she is drawn into the what rather than the who of the narrative.
Nonetheless, The Shore is an emotionally charged read that forces you to contemplate larger questions of violence, love and hatred while encouraging the growth, development and perseverance of the individual despite hardship, failure and horror.
Published by Hogarth, Sara Taylor’s The Shore was realeased May 26, 2015.
Pick up a copy at your local bookstore today.
FTC Disclaimer: This book was given to me in return for a fair and honest review of the text.