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Coastliners Paperback – 1 Jan 2003

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Product details

  • Paperback: 400 pages
  • Publisher: Black Swan; New Ed edition (1 Jan. 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0552998850
  • ISBN-13: 978-0552998857
  • Product Dimensions: 12.7 x 3 x 19.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (57 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 195,521 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Joanne Harris is an Anglo-French author, whose books include fourteen novels, two cookbooks and many short stories. Her work is extremely diverse, covering aspects of magic realism, suspense, historical fiction, mythology and fantasy. She has also written a DR WHO novella for the BBC, has scripted guest episodes for the game ZOMBIES, RUN!, and is currently engaged in a number of musical theatre projects as well as developing an original drama for television.
In 2000, her 1999 novel CHOCOLAT was adapted to the screen, starring Juliette Binoche and Johnny Depp. She is an honorary Fellow of St Catharine's College, Cambridge, and in 2013 was awarded an MBE by the Queen.
Her hobbies are listed in Who's Who as 'mooching, lounging, strutting, strumming, priest-baiting and quiet subversion'. She also spends too much time on Twitter; plays flute and bass guitar in a band first formed when she was 16; and works from a shed in her garden at her home in Yorkshire.

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Product Description

Amazon Review

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)

"Coastliners 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)

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Customer Reviews

3.9 out of 5 stars

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

36 of 39 people found the following review helpful By OG on 17 Mar. 2003
Format: Paperback
I have never done this reviewing thing before, but felt compelled to comment on this novel, which has thus far not received entirely favourable reviews. I found that the book, as has been mentioned, differed from her previous works, which cannot be an entirely negative characteristic. Previous reviewers have ranged from critcising the similarity of her works to criticising this book for not continuing the culinary lineage of works like 'The five Quarters of the Orange' or 'Chocolat'.
Harris has indeed shifted her literary narrative from the externalised heady evocations of smell and taste to a more internalised style, focusing through the perspective of the protagonist Mado. This shift in style is managed with the kind of ease and beautiful style readers of Harris' previous work have come to expect.
It is lucky that the publishers chose to put blank pages between the parts of this book, as otherwise my sleep patterns of the last three days would have been seriously affected! Harris writes with an amazing flow, which I did not feel to be broken by the French names, causing the pages to fly by as the reader is absorbed into the island world of le Devin.
Her narrative moves in swells and dips like those of the sea she depicts in this novel, and her artistic imagery is similar to Mado's brooding, thoughtful pictures. Her supporting cast is beautifully and lovingly portrayed, as are the surroundings, and, having finished the book, I feel as if I have recently returned from a visit to a small french island, and am eagerly awaiting my next voyage to Harris' France.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By M. J. Saxton VINE VOICE on 3 Nov. 2008
Format: Paperback
There is a structure to this novel which is reminiscent of that of "Chocolat", so you know how it will end: with a firm romantic uncertainty. That's part of the Harris charm.

The convolutions of the plot are also part of what attracts, as they were in her three previous novels.

Mado is a great heroine: independent, artistic and thoughtful. She is the sort of person the reader can identify with in a wish-fulfillment way.

The road to love is not smooth, and Flynn's possible parentage doesn't help, but he's a cool, uncommitted enigma who you wouldn't mind being tucked up with now and again.

Joanne Harris evokes a feeling of Frenchness which seems authentic to those with a nodding acquaintance with the people. She is one of the best creators of atmosphere in modern novels. They conjure an intimate, fresh and individual setting for each story; the reader is drawn into a feeling of familiarity with the main characters and places.

"Coastliners" tastes of the brine and wind of a Breton island. You can feel the insularity and are drawn into the geography of Le Devin.

Certain characteristics are reminiscent of village life in rural England which aids understanding of the way of life of the people and their attitudes.

A captivating story. Familial ties and treachery, a great setting and characters - Joanne Harris at her best.
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24 of 27 people found the following review helpful By fields21 on 31 Mar. 2003
Format: Paperback
Joanne Harris is fast becoming an archetypical writer. Coastlines is set in yet another French village, with sturdy local characters, such as a silent father and a flamboyant love interest. Village gossip, secrets & tragedies from the past its all in there. The bad part of the novel is the first half: you start to think you've read it all before, and the story is not yet gripping or convincing. The silent father is annoying, and the narrator is against-the-villager-for-their-own better a little too early. You wonder why she bothers with all this. Some dialogues seem a little forced.The good part is the second half when the plot starts to unravel. The story gains some speed, but most characters remain a little flat. The plot, however, is an excellent one.All in all, though this is a classical Harris, it is not her best. Characters (especially the narrator) are less convincing, the story is little too made up (fooling the villagers with a miracle is a little too much for 2003) and the setting somehow doesn't come alive as much as in her other novels. Harrris style remains fluent, easy too read and highly entertaining. If you're a fan -> a must have. If not, stick to "Oranges".
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38 of 43 people found the following review helpful By Dawn on 14 Jan. 2003
Format: Paperback
It is true that my full enjoyment of this novel was somewhat limited due to the fact that I originally bought a cheap copy from a second hand book shop and half way through found a printing error had substituted the middle three chapters for a repetition of the first three. I was not happy! However I believe it does say something for the story that I went straight out and bought a complete, full priced version to catch up on the parts that I had missed.
Coastliners is good. There is no doubt about that. The plot is strong as are the characters. Anyone who read the first few chapters would be compelled to read to the end. Joanne Harris' empathy with the town or village community is particularly moving in this story. She has a remarkable ability to portray a small, secure yet claustrophobic community, she does it so completely that by the end of the book, you could recognise each character if they were walking dwon the street. At the same time as drawing on caricature so well that you recognise immediately the type of person she means, yet she has a sensitivity that draws deeper so that the reader can identify with the character as an individual.
For my own reading of this novel, I do feel that in concentrating on twist and turns in the plot, and the differing relationships between the characters, Harris has lost something of the succulent imagery that has become her trade mark. Strong flavours enhance her earlier stories, sweets, sours, fruit and wine, natural flavours that work with instinct and overpower the senses. Chocolat, Blackberry Wine and Five Quarters of the Orange are a dazzling gastronomic feast, tastes and smells vivid. Coastliners leave you hungry.
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