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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) --This text refers to the Paperback edition.
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Top Customer Reviews
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.
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.
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.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
I love Joanna Harris's books. She builds wonderful, rich characters and weaves stories around them that keep you interested. Read morePublished 1 month ago by Karen Sharpe
I was expecting a fabulous tale with lots of twists and turns but was a tad disappointed with this one sadly. Read morePublished 5 months ago by Mrs. Joanne Price
A decent portrayal of local rivalries in an isolated community, particularly the aspect of being bound to cooperate to some extent despite one's feelings about some other... Read morePublished 5 months ago by Paul
Great read, as usual from this author. Thoroughly enjoyed itPublished 10 months ago by Amazon Customer
Had hard back several years ago and lost it. Excellent read as usual from this superb writer. Characters believable and draws you in from the outset.Published 11 months ago by suzanne griffiths
Loved the book , I enjoyed the Chocolate set of books and this book although different was a good read.Published 15 months ago by J
A most boring and tedious book.I have read many of her other novels and enjoyed them as an easy read,this was dire!!!Published 16 months ago by KIKI