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The Shore
Cover of The Shore
The Shore
A Novel
Borrow Borrow
An ambitious, Baileys prize-nominated debut 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.
Spanning over a century, dreamlike and yet impossibly real, profound and playful, The Shore is a breathtakingly ambitious and accomplished work of fiction by a young writer of remarkable promise.
An ambitious, Baileys prize-nominated debut 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.
Spanning over a century, dreamlike and yet impossibly real, profound and playful, The Shore is a breathtakingly ambitious and accomplished work of fiction by a young writer of remarkable promise.
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About the Author-
  • Born in rural Virginia, Sara Taylor is the author of The Shore, which was long listed for the Baileys Women's Fiction Prize and shortlisted for the Guardian First Book Award and the Sunday Times Young Writer of the Year.
Reviews-
  • Publisher's Weekly

    March 23, 2015
    This searing debut novel comprises 13 nonlinear chapters that interweave past and future, realism and fantasy. Ranging from 1876 to 2143, their primary
    setting is the Virginia coastal islands (Chincoteague is the best known) that residents call simply the Shore. Taylor’s story centers on the family of fictional Shore resident Medora Slater, who can heal women powerfully but is scarred by male violence. The book opens in 1995, when her descendant, teenager Chloe Gordy—whose mother is dead and whose father is abusive and addicted—battles fiercely to keep her younger sister safe. In later chapters we meet her mother Ellie, who conceived Chloe amid a night of tragedy, and Medora herself. Chloe’s contemporary, Sally Lumsden, from another branch of the family, is a gifted herbalist with paranormal powers; she predicts the bleak future we see her great-niece Tamara struggling to survive. Though the parts of the book fit together in confusing ways, and two chapters set in the future are less convincing than the rest, the novel offers a promising new voice. Taylor excels at imagining outsider identities, female strength, the connection of people to place, and a world so perilous that damage and healing, brutality and resourcefulness merge.

  • Kirkus

    March 15, 2015
    An isolated stretch of coastal Virginia provides the eerie backdrop for a series of interconnecting tales of entrapment and escape. Debut author Taylor focuses both a microscope and a telescope on a remote area of Eastern Virginia and its longtime residents in this novel made up of an array of linked stories. Set-primarily-on "The Shore," a string of islands in the Chesapeake Bay that includes Assateague and the legendary Chincoteague, Taylor's tales relate the lives of several of the area's denizens over a two-and-a-half century span. Reaching into a dystopic future from a rural but far-from-idyllic past, Taylor weaves together accounts of misogyny, patricide, other garden-variety murders, and racism. The resulting collage of stories contains shifting narrators and perspectives as well as hints of family mystery. Few of the assembled tales lack a reference to pharmaceuticals of one sort or another, ranging from Native American plant lore to post-plague survival and the customs of the methamphetamine trade. Permeating each part of the work is a deep-rooted sense of place, from the endless marshes to the stink of the poultry farms. When one disaffected woman briefly escapes (with a drug-dealing boyfriend) to a farmhouse in the Blue Ridge Mountains, she discovers an antique bird cage in the attic-and it's hard not to think the residents of The Shore aren't trapped in a much bigger, creepier bird cage. The closed ecosystem of The Shore provides Taylor with an ideal setting for illuminating the course of Life over Time.

  • New York Times Book Review "A multigenerational novel of entwined families, The Shore bursts with energy and ambition."
  • Eimear McBride, author of A Girl Is a Half-formed Thing "A vivid exploration of the struggle for autonomy and the many meanings of what we call home."
  • Catherine O'Flynn, author of What Was Lost "I loved this book. Redemption and revenge thread through these tales of lives at the margins. Epic in breadth but glittering in its detail, The Shore is utterly absorbing."
  • Adam Thorpe, author of Ulverton "Sara Taylor has a completely natural, unforced feel for language and voice: a remarkable debut."
  • Maureen Duffy "This is not a novel for the faint-hearted but dare to read it for the sinuous fluency of the writing."
  • Bustle "Haunting...Taylor weaves hypnotic yarns of abuse and murder, of protection and redemption...An affecting meditation on lives which are inextricably bound to the land from which they've sprung."
  • Publishers Weekly "This searing debut novel...offers a promising new voice. Taylor excels at imagining outsider identities, female strength, the connection of people to place, and a world so perilous that damage and healing, brutality and resourcefulness merge."
  • Kirkus Reviews "[With] a deep-rooted sense of place...The closed ecosystem of The Shore provides Taylor with an ideal setting for illuminating the course of Life over Time."
  • Strange Horizons "An intricate, intelligent, passionate work that does not so much storm the barricades of speculative fiction as quietly subvert our expectations of what speculative fiction might be capable of... The Shore is a novel to treasure. Flawlessly written and endlessly captivating, this is the kind of book that, like a well-thumbed family album, can be endlessly re-imagined and reinterpreted, that will retain its power to enchant throughout numerous encounters."
  • The Guardian (UK) "[Taylor] can do dark realism as well as she can the magic kind – in fact, she seems able to do most things. This debut is a testament to an exuberant talent and an original, fearless sensibility. It's also enormous fun to read."
  • Independent on Sunday (UK) "Outstanding...[The] show-stopper of a start is followed by twelve interlinked narratives which hop around more than two and a half centuries. Taylor cannot be faulted for exciting subject matter...Taylor has a flair for prose which brings her dramatic scenarios to life. Mostly her description is understated, fleshed out every so often with imaginative tropes. She is also blessed with an effortlessly intimate and engaging narrative voice...A tremendous debut novel featuring writing which is unusually evocative, often hauntingly so. The prospect of more to come from Taylor is exciting."
  • Sunday Times (UK) "[An] impressive debut."
  • Daily Mail (UK) "This ambitious and magical novel is made all the more remarkable by its muscular prose redolent with atmosphere."
  • Sunday Express (UK) "Taylor's prose is dreamy and surprisingly playful."
  • Irish Independent "Steel yourself for The Shore, a debut novel which follows two families over a century and a half...Taylor is a beautiful writer, exceptionally talented in fact, and brings us lyrically into the hearts of each of her many characters."
  • Irish Times "An audacious debut...Brilliantly imagined."
  • Irish Examiner "A startling debut...This brutal, compelling novel uses the harshness of such landscape, marked by that relentless clash between ocean and shore, to explore and make sense of inner and far more damaged territories...The first chapter, Target Practice, gets proceedings underway in fine style, with an intriguing plot, assured narrative voice, a great opening hook and an explosive finale...Sara Taylor is a precocious talent...She seems set for a stellar literary career."
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    Random House Publishing Group
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