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 …
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.
If there was one thing I took away from this novel it was the beauty of the Canadian landscape, the vastness of the sea and its undercurrents that spelt danger for those that didn’t understand its ways.
I’m going to emphasise the word ‘undercurrent’, the pervading theme that navigated its way through The Coral Bride. It was an undercurrent of past feuds, of a strained relationship between father and son both wanting to voice their fears and build bridges.
Those undercurrents may have led to a crime, of Angel Roberts, drowned in her wedding dress, a fierce independent woman who succeeded in a world dominated by the strong men of the sea.
Detective Morales, was the man sent to uncover the truth, a man who struggled with his own demons, the surprise reappearance of his son an added worry, the breakdown of his marriage and his race all preyed on his mind. But he faced other challenges as the fishing community he tried to infiltrate closed ranks, downplayed family feuds and those who were sent to assist him, put up brick walls to protect themselves and their community.
The fishing community didn’t reckon on a detective who was determined and dogged in unearthing the truth as their lies and deceit slowly unwound. Bouchard’s descriptions of the competitiveness, rules and regulations were a real eye opener, women treated with derision, who had to work twice as hard as any man to prove their worth. Were the men merely jealous or did they in some way feel threatened, that a women could be better than them?
You wondered if it was this that drove someone toward murder and I loved that we discovered the answers to the questions at the same time as Morales, before we finally learnt the truth. It was a truth that was shocking, not merely for the mere act but also the reasons and I found it hard to get my head around it, to understand the intent and reasoning.
The intent and reasoning were firmly routed in the disintegration of family and I admired Bouchard’s ability to weave this within her narrative. She highlighted the ties that should bind us together could also be the ones that ultimately push us apart. She brilliantly entered the psyche of Molasses and his son Sebastian, the misconceptions that dogged them, barriers in place until events forced openness and communication. You wondered why those that surrounded Angel Roberts during her life were not able to do the same, as Bouchard showed off their misplaced pride, grudges held until the bubble burst and feelings overtook sensible thought.
The Coral Bride was a thoughtful and evocative novel that was both understated and subtle in its approach, without the need for high drama and flashing sirens. Detective Morales was a man looking to the future and one that I hope Bouchard will share with us very soon.
I would like to thank Orenda for a copy of The Coral Bride to read and review and to Anne Cater of Random Things Tours for inviting My Bookish Blogspot to participate in the blogtour.
About the author
Ten years or so 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 Seawas published in 2018 to resounding critical acclaim, sure to be followed by its sequel, The Coral Bride.She lives in Quebec.