The Shore: Book summary and reviews of The Shore by Sara Taylor

The Shore

A Novel

by Sara Taylor

The Shore by Sara Taylor X
The Shore by Sara Taylor
  • Critics' Opinion:

    Readers' rating:

  • Published in USA  May 2015
    320 pages
    Genre: Novels

    Publication Information

  • Rate this book

Buy This Book

About this book

Book Summary

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.

Read a Sample

Click to the right or left of the sample to turn the page.
(If no book jacket appears in a few seconds, then we don't have an excerpt of this book or your browser is unable to display it)

Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" backstories
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $12 for 3 months or $39 for a year
  • More about membership!


Media Reviews

"[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." - Publishers Weekly

"The closed ecosystem of The Shore provides Taylor with an ideal setting for illuminating the course of Life over Time. " - Kirkus Reviews

"[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." - The Guardian (UK)

"[A] remarkable first novel…Taylor is a terrific storyteller with a flawless narrative voice and, as a portrait of the impoverished rural South, this novel is a real achievement. .. The Shore is a mesmerizing, powerful read." - The Times (UK)

"Reminiscent of David Mitchell's Cloud Atlas and just as ambitious." - Stylist

"A collection of interweaving stories set on the coast of Virginia…[The Shore] promises lyrical writing and quietly tragic storytelling." - Huffington Post (UK)

The information about The Shore shown above was first featured in "The BookBrowse Review" - BookBrowse's online-magazine that keeps our members abreast of notable and high-profile books publishing in the coming weeks. In most cases, the reviews are necessarily limited to those that were available to us ahead of publication. If you are the publisher or author of this book and feel that the reviews shown do not properly reflect the range of media opinion now available, please send us a message with the mainstream media reviews that you would like to see added.

Reader Reviews

Write your own review

Nikki (Indiana)

Amazing novel via interlinked short stories!
This is a wonderful, non-linear read that takes you on quite a journey. Beautiful writing that requires (& deserves) your full attention. Recommended!

Barbara B. (Holbrook, NY)

the shore- Sara Taylor
this is exactly the type of book I like to read. weaving back and forth in time and between characters, then all the loose ends are brought together. you can actually be transported to this island off the coast of Virginia, smell the decay and be there in the moment. From beginning to end I was in awe of the author's talent to utilize words and prose and create such a beautiful and strange novel. Thank you for the opportunity to receive this book ahead of time BookBrowse.

Anne G. (Byram, MS)

Remarkable Novel by Debut Author
A collection of stirring vignettes that weave back and forth through time like the warp and weft of a colorful tapestry. Only at the book's conclusion will the entire picture be portrayed.

A group of loosely related families living on a chain of small islands called The Shore tell their tales in first person narratives. Some extremely personal stories are full of pathos, misery, and tragedy; other narratives have a strong optimism, and even a touch of paranormal tossed into the mix, but most will not be resolved in the present. The ultimate satisfactory conclusions are revealed in another person's narrative and occasionally another decade. Emotions range from deep love to dark revenge to a trusting hope for the future, with tendrils from one generation wrapping around the lives of members of another generation.

Keeping in mind that The Shore covers several generations, readers will do well to try to remember character's names because they will be spoken of in subsequent decades.

The Shores is a book that will haunt readers long after the last page is read. Highly recommended for readers who enjoy a deeply personal narrative.


Messes are hard to clean up
I ADORED The Shore. It's less a short story collection than beautiful glimpses into not so beautiful lives. You get a real sense of place, you can smell the crab and the chicken plant, and the desperation. "...but stopping for a pack of smokes because you don't ride into battle unarmed." I was touched and mesmerized and constantly surprised. I felt the pathos and found some characters pathetic, ugly, mean and selfish. I read in wonderment. My highest praise: it's so very close to The Goldfinch status. In any event, I found it a terrific, emotional experience, WAY more than just being a book that I read.

My copy did not have the family tree, and I do think I'd like to see that now, but it didn't bother me not having it while I was reading. I typically do not pick up story collections, but The Shore may have me changing my preferences. Simply put, I stand with my original description...stunning. I'm still savoring and mulling and basking in the experience.

Mary O. (Boston, MA)

Series of vignettes
A beautifully written series of vignettes that weave in and out of the characters' lives. I love debut novels and this is a special treat!

Annie P. (Murrells Inlet, SC)

The Shore by Sara Taylor
This may be one of the strangest books I have ever read! At first I thought I'd never make it through, but the more I read the more fascinated I became. Trying to follow all the characters was not easy at first, but the rhythm of the story finally caught me and it all came together. Taylor's use of language is stunning – she sings this story together! She has created a weird menagerie and connected them all in a crazy quilt design. The time span from 1885 to 2143, not in chronological order, isn't confusing at all – once the rhythm catches you. The Shore is populated by characters that when you meet them, you hear those banjos playing and wonder how many places there are that hatch such oddballs. They do latch on to you and get under your skin, and you have to keep reading. The last chapter is unto itself, written in a local patois or vernacular that is scary as all get-out. I enjoyed this book very much, and hope to see a lot more from Sara Taylor.

...16 more reader reviews

Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" backstories
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $12 for 3 months or $39 for a year
  • More about membership!

Author Information

Sara Taylor

Sara Taylor was born in rural Virginia where she was home-educated. Between secondary school and college, she painted houses, demonstrated open hearth cooking for museums, and opened a café. At 24 years old, she completed her MA at the University of East Anglia, and is currently working on a PhD. The Shore is her first novel.

More Author Information

Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" backstories
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $12 for 3 months or $39 for a year
  • More about membership!

More Recommendations

Readers Also Browsed . . .

more novels...

Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" backstories
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $12 for 3 months or $39 for a year
  • More about membership!

Award Winners

  • Book Jacket: Becoming
    by Michelle Obama
    Voted 2019 Best Nonfiction Award Winner by BookBrowse Subscribers

    BookBrowse hosted a Book Club ...
  • Book Jacket: Butterfly Yellow
    Butterfly Yellow
    by Thanhha Lai, Daniel Suarez
    Voted 2019 Best Young Adult Award Winner by BookBrowse Subscribers

    As readers, many of us hope ...
  • Book Jacket: Olive, Again
    Olive, Again
    by Elizabeth Strout
    Voted 2019 Best Fiction Award Winner by BookBrowse Subscribers

    It's been a big year for literary ...
  • Book Jacket: Solitary
    by Albert Woodfox
    Voted 2019 Best Debut Author Award Winner by BookBrowse Subscribers

    According to statistics from ...

Book Club
Book Jacket
Evening in Paradise
by Lucia Berlin

"Berlin's new book is a marvel, filled with deeply touching stories about lives on the fringes."—NPR

About the book
Join the discussion!

Readers Recommend

  • Book Jacket

    Nothing to See Here
    by Kevin Wilson

    A moving and uproarious novel about a woman who finds meaning caring for two children with remarkable abilities.
    Reader Reviews

Win this book!
Win Butterfly Yellow


Winner of the BookBrowse Award for Best Young Adult Novel, and the overall highest rated book of the year!



The Big Holiday Wordplay

Enter Now

Books that     

 & enlighten

Visitors can view some of BookBrowse for free. Full access is for members only.

Join Today!

Your guide toexceptional          books

BookBrowse seeks out and recommends the best in contemporary fiction and nonfiction—books that not only engage and entertain but also deepen our understanding of ourselves and the world around us.