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.
Hi and welcome to my review of The Coral Bride!
Having read The Coral Bride’s predecessor, We Were the Salt of the Sea, quite recently, I was thrilled to find The Coral Bride in my letterbox: I couldn’t wait to head back to Canada and look out to sea with Roxanne Bouchard again.
The moon is a liar, and the sea is a lure.
Quite. And so is The Coral Bride, luring me, seducing me with just one paragraph. With several books on the TBR calling my name I decided some tough love was in order: I’d pick up a few books, read the first paragraph, and whichever tickled me the most I would read.
I remember having to work for We Were the Salt of the Sea. I fell in love with it, no doubt about it, but it took me a little while. No such thing with The Coral Bride. I read that first paragraph and I was sucked in right away.
The Coral Bride brings back DS Joaquin Moralès, who is called out to a fishing town in the Gaspé Peninsula for a misper case that rapidly turns into a murder investigation. The victim, Angel Roberts, is the captain of a lobster trawler, a young woman who has had to fight for her spot in this men’s world. So once again, Bouchard’s main character is a strong woman who has fallen in love with the sea and to hell with men who mock her and tell her the ocean is no place for a woman.
The swell always consumes those who open their hearts to the ocean.
Although I was intrigued by the question of what had happened to Angel, I was side-tracked by other story elements, notably Moralès’s private issues, among which his relationship with his son Sébastien who turns up out of the blue. We get to see a lot more of Moralès this time around and I really enjoyed my time in his company (although I was hungry half the time, the man can cook!) Like father, like son: the two Moralès men have more in common than they might think, and leave it to dear old Cyrille to point that out in the most lyrical of ways:
You sound like your father. You dream of the wide blue yonder, but you never take your eyes of the shore.
Ah yes the wide blue yonder. In a story about fishermen on a peninsula, the sea is never far away. A character in its own right, the sea dominates The Coral Bride in more ways than one.
Despite the murder investigation at the heart of The Coral Bride I will once again have to tell you that if you’re in the market for a cut and dried police procedural, you should look elsewhere. Although the investigatory part of the story kept me on my toes and surprised me with its outcome, in my opinion that is not the strength of this story. What enchanted me, once again, was Bouchard’s lyrical prose, what held me captive was the people and their love interests, the sea first and foremost. Orenda Books’ moto “Beautiful, readable, unforgettable” is 100% applicable to The Coral Bride.
The Coral Bride is available in eBook right now and will be out in paperback on 12 November.
Huge thanks to Orenda Books for the proof copy. All opinions are my own. Please note that the quotes were taken from the proof.