Coastliners

Coastliners

4.1 17
by Joanne Harris
     
 

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Mado has been adrift for too long. After ten years in Paris, she returns to the small island of Le Devin, the home that has haunted her since she left.

Le Devin is shaped somewhat like a sleeping woman. At her head is the village of Les Salants, while its more prosperous rival, La Houssinière, lies at her feet. Yet even though you can walk from one to the

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Overview

Mado has been adrift for too long. After ten years in Paris, she returns to the small island of Le Devin, the home that has haunted her since she left.

Le Devin is shaped somewhat like a sleeping woman. At her head is the village of Les Salants, while its more prosperous rival, La Houssinière, lies at her feet. Yet even though you can walk from one to the other in an hour, they are worlds apart. And now Mado is back in Les Salants hoping to reconcile with her estranged father. But what she doesn't realize is that it is not only her father whose trust she must regain.

Editorial Reviews

Boston Herald
“[Harris] proves she doesn’t need pantry ingredients to cook up a delectable story.”
Beth Kephart
In 1999 Harris burst onto the scene with Chocolat, a simple tale of sometimes quirky charm that captivated both a large readership and Hollywood executives. With Coastliners, her fourth novel in four years, Harris introduces readers to a sleepy French island and a narrator, Mado, who has returned to the place after many years away and quickly asserts herself in the mysterious politics of the locals. At issue here is the land itself—the way the sand has leaked away into the sea at one end of the island, and the way a savvy businessman on the island's other end is taking rather suspicious advantage of the tides. In seeking to rescue the part of the island that was her childhood home, Mado reenters the world of her nearly mute and disturbed father, becomes embroiled in local politics, falls in love and happens across the long-hidden secrets of her family. Impressively researched and filled to the brim with surprising plot twists, this deeply felt book is the best work yet of this prolific writer.
Publishers Weekly
Family history meets village rivalry in Harris's poignant fourth novel, an understated passion play set on the provincial French island of Le Devin. Madeleine Prasteau leaves her Paris apartment to return to the island village of Les Salants, where she discovers that her father, a widowed boat owner, is going downhill along with the village itself as the rival town of La Houssini re grows and prospers. Despite her father's chilly greeting, Madeleine spruces up the family home, and when she meets an attractive, mysterious stranger named Flynn she gets involved in a project to save Les Salants by building a homemade reef to restore the fast-eroding beach. The project gets complicated when Madeleine realizes that Flynn has ties to Brismand, a rival of her father's, who controls local commerce in La Houssini re. The reef project succeeds, but with a bitter aftertaste when Madeleine's older sister, Adrienne, moves back to the island and her father becomes infatuated with Adrienne's children. Sibling rivalry fades to the background when Madeleine learns that Flynn's ties to Brismand extend into her own family history, and she discovers that Flynn was an integral part of a romantic triangle involving her father and Brismand. Harris develops her beguiling story in layers, drawing Madeleine into the village life she loves and loathes while exploring the nuances of island living. Despite the narrowly focused setting, Harris exposes a wide range of passions and emotions as Madeline gets involved with Flynn against the effective backdrop of the various family and village rivalries. This book lacks the lurid erotic power of Chocolat, but Harris compensates for the lowered levels of passion and eros by writing with power and grace about the family ties that bind. 6-city author tour. (Sept.) Forecast: Chocolat and Five Quarters of the Orange were bestsellers, and Coastliners should match their performance so long as readers don't balk at the absence of a culinary hook.
Library Journal
As in her previous work, Harris (Chocolat) is a master at the long, quiet, atmospheric novel in which it appears that nothing much is happening. Here she describes the rich and rough shoreline of Le Devin, a small French island with a quickly eroding coastline, inhabited by generations of families whose feuds are the equal of the Montagues and the Capulets. Then there are smaller feuds between fishermen and tourist-mongers, plus a vague family feud between Madeleine and her sister Adrienne. At first it seems nothing much is happening, until we realize that landscape approaches the level of metaphor, and while listeners were dreamily lost in her lush descriptions read by Vivienne Benesch, the author has portrayed the lives of her characters as changing dramatically, and irreversibly. Only in the last third of the book do things happen quickly, and importantly enough one is tempted to go back and replay other sections. Yes, all the seeds are there, and we should have guessed them, but it's a tribute to Harris's writing that we did not. While a few events are clich d and almost predictable, there are enough surprises to satisfy listeners. Short, clearly focused chapters make this ideal for long, quiet drives, or while resting lazily before sleep. Highly recommended.-Rochelle Ratner, formerly with "Soho Weekly News," New York Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780060958015
Publisher:
HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date:
08/19/2003
Series:
Harper Perennial
Edition description:
First Perennial Edition
Pages:
368
Sales rank:
619,291
Product dimensions:
5.31(w) x 8.00(h) x 0.83(d)

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