After three novels which centred around gastronomic pleasures Joanne Harris's new book, Coastliners
, focuses on more astringent joys. Sea, gritty sand and adverse weather conditions replace Chocolat
, Blackberry Wine
and Five Quarters of the Orange
. Set on a small, blustery fishing island off the coast of France, it tells the story of Mado, a young woman who returns to her childhood home to find the local community torn apart by family feuds, bad tides and murky political machinations.
Passionate, stubborn Mado, whose "head is full of rocks" tries to save the livelihoods of the villagers of Les Salants by urging them to work together to save the beach from erosion, both natural and man-made. The villagers, written with endearing panache by Harris, are an eccentric, curmudgeonly bunch, who eventually cooperate with the help of Flynn, a charismatic stranger with a shady past. He's not the only man of mystery in Mado's life; her father, taciturn Grosjean, has a secretive heart that's as "prickly and tightly layered as an artichoke", and local, wealthy businessman Brismand also seems to be hiding something. Mado does her best to unravel these mysteries, while attempting to keep a hold on her own sense of self in the claustrophobic, close community. It's not only the shore line that takes a buffeting. The villagers and the island are so vividly described that it's impossible not to become engrossed in Mado's story. Coastliners is a book about longing to belong, and Joanne Harris charts that emotional voyage compellingly. --Eithne Farry
--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
Everything about her style is aerodynamic ... Harris writes well, and charming, cinema-friendly images and cinematic mysteries abound ... stylish and economical (Sunday Times
Harris is a writer of tremendous charm, who creates a winning blend of fairy-tale morality and gritty realism (Independent
Her writing is consistently evocative, sensual and atmospheric (Mail on Sunday
Her latest gripping tale ... An intoxicating mix of documentary realism and enchanting romance (Daily Express
is another triumph for Joanne Harris who shows that her powerful imagery is not exclusive to food and uses the coastline, sea and beaches to heighten the senses, drawing the reader further in with each incoming tide. A must-read (Punch