Book Review of Coastliners

Author: Joanne Harris
Genres: Literature & Fiction, Substores
Book Type: Paperback
reviewed on + 552 more book reviews

Book Magazine
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 itselfthe 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.