In this beautiful, lyrical sequel to the critically acclaimed We Were the Salt of the Sea, Detective Moralès finds that a seemingly straightforward search for a missing fisherwoman off Quebec’s Gaspé Peninsula is anything but …
‘A riveting story of old enmities, jealousies and friendships that come to light after a woman goes missing in a remote fishing village … beautifully atmospheric’ Gill Paul
‘A haunting murder mystery about how human nature is every bit as dangerous and inscrutable as the sea … draws out its suspense to the very last moment’ Foreword Reviews
It’s not just the sea that holds secrets…
When an abandoned lobster trawler is found adrift off the coast of Quebec’s Gaspé Peninsula, DS Joaquin Moralès begins a straightforward search for the boat’s missing captain, Angel Roberts – a rare female in a male-dominated world. But Moralès finds himself blocked at every turn – by his police colleagues, by fisheries bureaucrats, and by his grown-up son, who has turned up at his door with a host of his own personal problems.
When Angel’s body is finally discovered, it’s clear something very sinister is afoot, and Moralès and son are pulled into murky, dangerous waters, where old resentments run deep.
Exquisitely written, with Bouchard’s trademark lyrical prose, The Coral Bride evokes the power of the sea on the communities who depend on it, the never-ending struggle between the generations, and an extraordinary mystery at the heart of both.
Maybe it was because I was supposed to be spending five weeks this summer travelling in Nova Scotia – (thank you Covid19 for ruining my holiday plans) I was absolutely intrigued by the premise of this book featuring this evocative insight into the Gaspé Peninsula and its maritime culture. I was delighted to be invited on the tour by Anne Cater & Random Things Tours and couldn’t wait to travel vicariously to this beautiful, remote and mysterious part of the world.
This book definitely did not disappoint, it grabbed me and pulled me right into the story even when it was a hard read at times due to the harsh and relentless lives that people living in this remote location have to contend with. I was really intrigued by the premise of the book: that we get to hear about events from such a unique perspective and this really added to the story for me. The search for a missing fisherwoman was the novel I never realised that I was dying to read – and this unusual premise and the stunning and remote location has a massive impact on the way that the residents of this patriarchal society perceive events and we start to see their perspective more clearly as this intelligently structured and poetically written novel unfolds.
I absolutely loved the unique atmosphere of this novel and definitely found it quite addictive. It was intriguing to imagine Morales trying to navigate the challenges of this disappearance and for anyone who has not already devoured We Were the Salt of the Sea, I guarantee that you will be rushing out to buy a copy as the writing is so evocative that in a time starved of travel, this is definitely the best way to vicariously experience a wholly different landscape, culture and world view.
Even though some of this novel deals with domestic issues and their isolated existence, it does it in an original way which makes the story linger at the edges of our consciousness even when we aren’t reading it. Both Morales and his son feel very much like real people – rather than mechanisms to explore a missing person story – which I’ve often found in novels which want to get people turning the pages This is a really unique novel which has to be ‘felt’ to be understood. I am in awe of Bouchards’s atmospheric writing that makes you feel the stunning beauty of this austere and remote location and feel like I could almost taste the sea air as I was reading.
Roxanne Bouchard is an intriguing writer – it’s hard to talk about this novel without spoilers, so I’ll just need to tell you that you must read it for yourself. You will be intrigued by this tale of long buried resentments within a close knit community and its deadly repercussions. It’s not one of these ‘keep looking for the big twist’ stories that people are getting a little bored of now. It is a story filled with tiny details that add up to its sense of atmosphere – things start to accumulate and you’ll not be able to believe you missed them before – and your relationship with the characters builds and builds as you experience the challenges and constraints of their circumstances.
The Coral Bride asks us to think about the way that our location shapes our outlook and perspective and doesn’t allow us to dismiss these characters as mere constructs – this novel never stops feeling like a real story. The bleakness of the tale is an undeniable aspect of their lived experience and because it’s so immersive I found its difficulties very rewarding and couldn’t stop thinking about the rhythm of its narrative.
This is a book that I know I’ll be recommending to lots of readers as I was totally immersed in its characters, its pace and the way it really made me think. I can’t wait to see what Roxanne Bouchard does next. The idea that life for remote communities can be a lot darker than you might think on the surface and I think that this would make an excellent Book Group read as it would be sure to provoke lots and lots of discussion and comment about a part of the world that most people don’t know very much about at all. Congratulations must also go to the translator David Warriner as he undoubtedly does a superb job of capturing the beauty and lyricism of the narrative and makes this novel sing as you read, buy yourself a copy to experience it for yourself
Praise for The Coral Bride
“A wonderfully atmospheric novel . . . I couldn’t put this book down.” –Gill Paul, author, The Secret Wife
“An elegant crime novel that deserves to be a tremendous success.” –William Ryan, author, The HolyThief
“I was quite bewitched at times by the language and imagery the author employs. A very satisfying read, and recommended for those who like their crime fiction with a more literary edge.” —Raven Crime Reads
“Morales’ determination to get a result in difficult circumstances shows him to be a character worth following.” —Crime Review
“Refreshingly different, unpredictable, yet deeply rich and touching, it became a part of me.” —LoveReading
‘Lyrical and elegiac, full of quirks and twists’ William Ryan
‘Asks questions right from page one’ Quentin Bates
‘An isolated Canadian fishing community, a missing mother, and some lovely prose. Very impressed by this debut so far’ Eva Dolan
‘A tour de force of both writing and translation’ Su Bristow
‘The translation from French has retained a dreamily poetic cast to the language, but it’s det-fic for all that…’ Sunday Times
‘Characters are well-drawn, from Moralès, the cop, and his sturdy inspector, Marlène, to the husky fishermen who were Marie’s devoted suitors three decades ago … An exotic curiosity, raw nugget’ Shots Mag
Writer On The Shelf
Over ten years ago, Roxanne Bouchard decided it was time she found her sea legs. So she learned to sail, first on the St Lawrence River, before taking to the open waters off the Gaspé Peninsula. The local fishermen soon invited her aboard to reel in their lobster nets, and Roxanne saw for herself that the sunrise over Bonaventure never lies. Her fifth novel (first translated into English) We Were the Salt of the Sea was published in 2018 to resounding critical acclaim, sure to be followed by its sequel, The Coral Bride. She lives in Quebec.
Translator David Warriner:
David Warriner translates from French and nurtures a healthy passion for Franco, Nordic and British crime fiction. Growing up in deepest Yorkshire, he developed incurable Francophilia at an early age. Emerging from Oxford with a modern languages degree, he narrowly escaped the graduate rat race by hopping on a plane to Canada – and never looked back. More than a decade into a high-powered commercial translation career, he listened to his heart and turned his hand again to the delicate art of literary translation. David has lived in France and Quebec, and now calls beautiful British Columbia home.