4 out of 4 stars
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“The cure for anything is salt water—tears, sweat, or the sea.”
Erica, a writer struggling with impostor syndrome, finds twelve (apparently) meaningless objects on the enchanting Tràigh Lar Beach, Scotland. On Tràigh Lar Beach by Dianne Ebertt Beeaff compiles twelve short stories and a novella. The stories are each related to the objects that Erica found, while the novella, Fan Girls, follows the paths of four women whose love for the music of the band Datha intertwines their lives in a breathtaking clash.
The first attribute that stands out is that the author doesn’t follow a traditional narrative arc. Each of the short stories starts with the description of a flower related to the name of the protagonist, which seeps its symbolism into the story. The author also uses internal monologues, emails, lyrical prose, and a variety of narrative styles in a fascinating medley that mirrors real-life communication. What I consider most admirable is that Dianne Ebertt Beeaff created sixteen different narrative voices and styles that are perfectly discernible from one another. This is no easy feat to achieve, and it keeps the reader on their toes with the constant switches. It also adds much-needed speed to some slower stories. The novella isn't traditional either; it's written in four alternating voices and the ending is spectacular.
Everyone, especially women, can relate to at least one of the stories of On Tràigh Lar Beach. The author covered a broad spectrum of the female experience, such as the innocence of childhood, the desperation of poverty, the struggles of motherhood, the challenges of widowhood and aging, the stagnancy of unfulfilling jobs, the fear of commitment, and the seemingly hopeless maze of domestic violence. The characters are extremely diverse too, from Ella, who just can't get behind the new-age psychobabble no matter how hard she tries (this was the most relatable to me), to Mari, a fading movie star. The variety of topics and the diversity in the array of characters speaks to not only the talent of the author, but also means On Tràigh Lar Beach has something for everyone.
The edition is outstanding, with less than a handful of mistakes in all the text. This is a flawless book. If I could ask for more, it would be for the author – who is also a visual artist – to illustrate the stories in a further edition.
On Tràigh Lar Beach by Dianne Ebertt Beeaff fully deserves 4 out of 4 stars because of the diverse characters, distinct narrative voices, meaningful plot, and innovative narrative arc.
I recommend this book to readers of feminine fiction, readers who enjoy short stories and lyrical prose, and music aficionados. Aspiring writers could learn a lot from analyzing the narrative style of Dianne Ebertt Beeaff. Survivors of rape or domestic violence should note that there are several mentions of these topics in the book. This is not the ideal book for readers who love page-turning action or those that prefer fantasy or sci-fi.
Like a message in a bottle, On Tràigh Lar Beach arrived from Scotland to my hands to show me the dazzling kaleidoscope of the female experience and to remind me of the meaning behind the mundane. I hope it reaches many more readers in its journey.
On Traigh Lar Beach
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