Joanne Harris's new novel is set on the windswept French island of
Le Devin, which is located off the Vendee coastline. The story
opens as painter Mado Prasteau returns to the island of her birth
after a long absence. She and her mother, who is now dead, left the
island years before while her estranged father, the boatbuilder
Jean Prasteau, remained. Mado, like jetsam, finds herself
inexorably pulled back to her childhood home. In fact the mantra of
the novel itself becomes 'everything returns'. Mado comes home to a
lukewarm welcome from some of the islanders, who form an intensely
close and unforgiving community, including her father who has
become even more reclusive and uncommunicative during her absence.
Gradually Mado finds herself drawn into the war of resentment
brewing between her own fishing village, the sea-battered Les
Salants, and the prosperous tourist town of La Houssinere, which
boasts the only sheltered sandy beach on the island. She also finds
herself attracted to the mysterious newcomer Flynn, who has,
unusually, endeared himself to the Les Salants folk. Harris
skilfully weaves a story of warring communities, turning tides,
forbidden love and sibling rivalry in a community bound by
tradition and superstition. Many of the villagers' lives have been
touched by tragedy as they have lost loved ones to the wild and
unpredictable sea. As ever, Harris keeps the reader turning the
pages as her story unfolds and her vividly drawn characters come to
life. The real hero of the story, however, is the island of Le
Devin itself whose shape resembles that of a sleeping woman and
who, though no beauty, inspires fierce loyalty and love among its
inhabitants. (Kirkus UK)
On the tiny Breton island of Le Devin, life has remained almost unchanged for over a hundred years. For generations, two rival communities, the wealthy La Houssinière and the impoverished village of Les Salants, have fought for control of the island’s only beach.
When Mado, a spirited local girl, returns to Les Salants after a ten-year absence, she finds her home threatened, both by the tides and the machinations of a local entrepreneur. Worse, the community is suffering from an incurable loss of hope.
Mado is not so easily discouraged. Dogged by prejudice from the superstitious villagers, she is forced to enlist the help of Flynn, an attractive drifter. But Mado’s attempts to transform the dying community have unforeseen consequences. As Les Salants returns slowly to life, so do past tragedies, including the terrible secret that still haunts Mado’s father. And is Flynn really who he says he is?
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