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Coastliners [Paperback]

Joanne Harris
3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (48 customer reviews)
RRP: £7.99
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Book Description

1 Jan 2003

On the tiny Breton island of Le Devin, life has remained almost unchanged for over a hundred years. For generations, two rival communities have fought for control of the island's only beach.

When Mado returns home ot her village after a ten-year absence, she finds it threatened, both by the tides and by a local entrepreneur. Worse, the community is suffering from an incurable loss of hope. Taking up the fight to transform the dying village, Mado must confront past tragedies, including the terrible secret that still haunts her father.

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Coastliners + Five Quarters Of The Orange + Blackberry Wine
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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: 12.8 x 19.4 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (48 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 66,377 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Joanne Harris is the author of the Whitbread-shortlisted Chocolat (made into an Oscar-nominated film starring Juliette Binoche and Johnny Depp) and many other bestselling novels. Her hobbies are listed in Who's Who as 'mooching, lounging, strutting, strumming, priest-baiting and quiet subversion'. She plays bass guitar in a band first formed when she was 16, is currently studying Old Norse, and lives with her husband and daughter in Yorkshire, about 15 miles from the place she was born

Photography © Takazumi Uemura

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

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
38 of 41 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Good but not blackberry wine! 14 Jan 2003
By Dawn
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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34 of 37 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Coastliners. 17 Mar 2003
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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23 of 25 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Another Harris 31 Mar 2003
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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14 of 16 people found the following review helpful
I hadn't been a Harris reader for very long when I read Coastliners. In fact, I'd only read Chocolat and it became my favourite book of all time. I loved the way Harris is able to make scents and sounds float out of the page. Her writing and beautiful descriptions are truly amazing and truly unique.
I firmly believed that there was no such book to rival Chocolat but in true style, Harris created a tale that I wouldn't have even dreamed about. Coastliners is that book. Harris is a master at her trade and it is confirmed in this book.
The story starts off very mysteriously, the story is slow and it makes you wonder why the plot hasn't become apparent but the start etches the picture of the island. Once the story begins to race, you want it to slow down so that you can enjoy the wonderful flavour of the story. She tells the story with a style that is all her own.
The story is great, the descriptions are unparalled and most of all, the plot is amazing! Brilliant read!
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars different - in a good way
I love Joanne Harris's writing so much it's hard to give reviews because I just want to shake anyone who doesn't share my feelings! Read more
Published 9 days ago by Erica Hamilton
5.0 out of 5 stars Coastliners
Another enthralling book. Intriguing plot, interesting characters and left guessing as to the outcome right to the end. Can't wait to read the next one.
Published 18 days ago by Kay Broughton
5.0 out of 5 stars if you liked chocolat.....
a lovely story which helps you to imagine this part of France with a good storyline and a lovely ending.
Published 18 days ago by J. Mcewan
3.0 out of 5 stars good solid read although I never did sort out who was who in the...
There was a great sense of place and the story rolled through steadily
There was something unsatisfactory at the end and the 'reveal' in the story went flat for me
Not... Read more
Published 3 months ago by jan
4.0 out of 5 stars Coastliners
I've been asked to review this book, but I didn't purchase it in the end. No reason, I enjoy Joanne Harris and have a few of her books. Read more
Published 4 months ago by J. D. Cattermole
1.0 out of 5 stars coastliners
A very boring book not much of a story too many french names to remeber. worst book I have read
Published 5 months ago by Ron H
5.0 out of 5 stars Fantastic Book, Joanne Harris does it again!
I am a big Joanne Harris fan, and I couldn't put this book down. Would recommend to anyone who loves to read.
Published 6 months ago by Lexi
5.0 out of 5 stars Vendeen coast.
Bought it as a gift. Already read it three times. Reminds me of holidays in France. Still trying to find Le Devin.
Published 7 months ago by Mrs Hilary Ramsey
5.0 out of 5 stars Joanne Harris at her best
Joanne Harris does it again with this superb novel. I love the way she writes about the community and the interaction and personalities of the Islanders.
Published 10 months ago by Mrs Janet Reay
4.0 out of 5 stars Coastliners - Joanne Harris
I read this book several years ago whilst on holiday in France after previously having read and thoroughly enjoyed Cholcolat, Blackberry Wine and Five Quarters of the Orange. Read more
Published 12 months ago by Adele204
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