I didn’t realise my mother was a person until I was thirteen years old and she pulled me out of bed, put me in the back of her car, and we left home and my dad with no explanations. I thought that Ma was all that she was and all that she had ever wanted to be. I was wrong.
As we made our way from Virginia to California, returning to the places where she’d lived as a child in foster care and as a teenager on the run, repaying debts and keeping promises, I learned who she was in her life-before-me and the secrets she had kept – even from herself. But when life on the road began to feel normal I couldn’t forget the home we’d left behind, couldn’t deny that, just like my mother, I too had unfinished business.
This enigmatic pilgrimage takes them back to various stages of Alex’s mother’s life, each new state prompting stories and secrets. Together they trace back through a life of struggle and adventure to put to rest unfinished business, to heal old wounds and to search out lost friends. This is an extraordinary story of a life; a stunning exploration of identity and an authentic study of the relationship between a mother and her child.
The Lauras is the new novel from the exceptionally gifted author of The Shore, which was long listed for the Baileys Women’s Fiction Prize and shortlisted for the Guardian First Book Award and the Sunday Times Young Writer of the Year.
‘Sara Taylor has a knowing turn of phrase that illustrates a real understanding of what makes us complex human beings tick, and you’ll be rooting for Alex throughout.’ (Boundless magazine)
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.
“[A] remarkable first novel, an intricately plotted series of episodes in the life of two families … A challenging family history of violence, murder, rape, castration and magic … 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 … There are ambitious experiments …The Shore is a mesmerising, powerful read.” (The Times)
“An exuberant talent announces her arrival in this Baileys-nominated collection of interlinked stories touching on murder, misogyny and morality … To find the connections between stories, you have to follow names, places and even objects through 200 years of timeline … It’s a strange but pleasurable way to read, an experience at once postmodern and childish …The green, lush landscape, the oyster beds, insects and crabs, are evoked through so many eyes and felt by so many hands that we start to believe in their enduring existence, giving backbone and depth to the green politics of the book …Taylor, it seems, 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)
“I loved this book . . . Epic in breadth but glittering in its detail, The Shore is utterly absorbing.” (Catherine O’Flynn, author of What Was Lost)
“A vivid exploration of the struggle for autonomy and the many meanings of what we call home.” (Eimear McBride, author of A Girl is a Half-formed Thing)
“In her debut, Taylor has already mastered the most dastardly of high-wire acts; an epic tale that’s neither overbearing nor overblown . . . The sprawling tale is marked by domestic violence, murder, rape, castration, drugs and magic; the isolated islands a shelter for some and a prison for others. But there are brilliant moments of intimate, quotidian despair, too.” (Irish Independent)
“Sara Taylor has a completely natural, unforced feel for language and voice: a remarkable debut.” (Adam Thorpe)
“This is not a novel for the faint-hearted but dare to read it for the sinuous fluency of the writing.” (Maureen Duffy)