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Review of The Coast Road by Alan Murrin

The Coast Road is set in County Donegal in 1994 and follows the lives of two women, Colette Crowley and Izzy Keaveney. On the surface these two women couldn’t be more different, but as the story develops and their complex characters unfold, we realise they are far more similar than they appear.

Colette is a bohemian who left her husband and sons to pursue a relationship with a married man in Dublin. She returns to County Donegal keen to make amends and to rebuild a relationship with her sons who she so dearly misses. Colette hosts a creative writing class for the local community where she meets Izzy and enlists her help.

Izzy is the wife of local parliamentarian James, frustrated by her husband’s obsession with his job and his need to keep up appearances. Izzy’s relationship with James is fraught and as Ireland sits on the cusp of the legalisation of divorce, she has a big decision to make. 

Marriage, relationships, religion and community are four prevalent themes throughout this book. There is no doubt that the location (a small coastal town in Ireland) and the time (1994, as the country votes on divorce law) are crucial to this story. Murrin writes with a masterful ease and confidence; you can feel the small-town gossip weaving its way around you and sucking you in. This is a strong story well told and I definitely enjoyed this book, my only critique is that I felt a little frustrated with the characters in places. Sometimes reading about women trapped in marriage/life can feel a little suffocating; I found myself desperately willing the characters to break free; perhaps one could argue that was one of the story’s main points! 

Reviewed by Helen.

The Coast Road was published on 09/05/24 by Bloomsbury.


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