The Coast Road: A Novel (Hardcover)

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“The last great book I read . . . an early proof of debut novelist Alan Murrin’s The Coast Road, about women in ’90s Ireland negotiating the complexities of marriage in a country where divorce is illegal. It will no doubt be a bestseller.”—actor Gillian Anderson

A poignant debut novel about the lives of women in a claustrophobic coast town and the search for independence in a society that seeks to limit it.

Set in 1994, The Coast Road tells the story of two women—Izzy Keaveney, a housewife, and Colette Crowley, a poet. Colette has left her husband and sons for a married man in Dublin. When she returns to her home in County Donegal to try to pick up the pieces of her old life, her husband, Shaun, a successful businessman, denies her access to her children.

The only way she can see them is with the help of neighbour Izzy, acting as a go-between. Izzy also feels caught in a troubled marriage. The friendship that develops between them will ultimately lead to tragedy for one, and freedom for the other.

Addictive as Big Little Lies with a depth and compassion that rivals the works of Claire Keegan, Elizabeth Strout, and Colm Tóibín, The Coast Road is a story about the limits placed on women’s lives in Ireland only a generation ago, and the consequences women have suffered trying to gain independence. Award-winning Irish author Alan Murrin reminds us of the price we are forced to pay to find freedom.

About the Author

Alan Murrin is an Irish writer based in Berlin. His short story, “The Wake,” won the 2021 Bournemouth Writing Prize and was shortlisted for short story of the year at the Irish Book Awards. The Coast Road was shortlisted for the PFD Queer Fiction prize. Murrin is also the recipient of an Irish Arts Council Agility Award and an Arts Council Literature Bursary. He is a graduate of the prose fiction masters at the University of East Anglia, and writes for the Irish Times and the Times Literary Supplement, as well as Art Review and e-flux.

Praise For…

"I loved this novel. All the female characters are complex and fascinating, and full of anger and hope. I found it an addictive read." — Gillian Anderson, actor

"Propelled by a gripping narrative and powerfully drawn characters The Coast Road makes for compulsive reading. Alan Murrin has written a poignant, utterly truthful story of passions prejudice and tragedy in a small town." — Gabriel Byrne, actor and author of Walking with Ghosts

"Alan Murrin is a gifted storyteller, his characters so fully realised I fretted for them as I read. A beautiful, accomplished debut." — Louise Kennedy, author of Trespasses

"Alan Murrin writes with the calm, poetic fluency of the best of Irish writers. The Coast Road is set in Donegal the year before divorce became legal in Ireland, and the many themes are equally—sadly—as relevant now. Women's autonomy is beautifully scrutinised in a shifting tempo that moves between rage, forgiveness, and hope. It's a stonkingly good novel. Just read it." — Sarah Winman, author of Still Life and Tin Man

“This is an incredibly satisfying novel, told with great tenderness and tremendous storytelling verve. A book to be savoured.”  — Colin Walsh, author of Kala

“An exceptional debut about marriage and freedom, about love and the ways it can heal and hurt us. A must read for 2024.” — Sarah Crossan, author of Here Is the Beehive

"An assured, gripping debut." — Jaime Quatro, author of Fire Sermon

"An eerie, urgent debut from an exciting new voice." — Neil Blackmore, author of Radical Love

"A smashing debut ... Each of the characters is vividly rendered, and Murrin excels at portraying the rippling consequences of small-town gossip and intolerance. This is a marvel." — Publishers Weekly

"Murrin powerfully renders the ways that women's freedom, individuality, and self-expression are stifled by religion, custom, and gossip." — New Yorker

"A painful, gorgeous debut." — Elle

"A perfect book club read… This accomplished debut novel explores failing relationships in a small town in 90s Ireland—when divorce was not an option… It is thoughtful, readable and funny, and even occasionally thrilling… If the book club queen Reese Witherspoon relocated to the Irish Republic, this would tick all her boxes… An assured and powerful debut." — The Sunday Times

"Murrin’s novel is immaculately crafted, his characterisation beautifully nuanced… Murrin writes perceptively about love, desire and the limitations placed on women… this is a compelling, compassionate page-turner." — The Observer

"Murrin switches with remarkable ease between perspectives, at home in the voice of a bohemian poet as he is a priest or plumber. This fluid narrative style makes for an engrossing read and it’s clear to see why his debut was part of a five-way auction… [Murrin] has written a gripping character-driven novel that is accessible and literary in style." — The Irish Times

"Tender, truthful and simmering with rage, Murrin’s lyrical debut delves into troubled marriages on the eve of Ireland’s’ referendum… It’s an emotionally eviscerating tale, told in deceptively calm prose." — The Mail on Sunday

"Scandal, hypocrisy and the stigma of divorce make this Irish novel sing… The story is crisply told. Murrin is sceptically yet tenderly observant." — The Sunday Telegraph

"Murrin is at his best when he is dissecting the intricacies of human relationships with the scalpel-wielding precision of a surgeon." — The Business Post

"With nuanced observations, humour and heartbreak, the novel mirrors the backdrop of the sea, whose ebb and flow belies dangerous currents below the surface." — Women & Home, Book of the Month

"Murrin writes with a masterful ease and confidence." — The Debut Digest

"This story of tragedy and strength casts you into the waves of small-town life." — Sainsbury's Magazine

"The novel is wonderful on what it means to live in a patriarchal society and the consequences women can suffer for trying to follow their dreams. Compelling." — The Daily Mail

"Alan Murrin is one of the sharpest new minds on the literary scene. His debut novel . . . [is] a journey of self-discovery and tragedy." — Sheerluxe

"Impressive….An intriguing addition to the swelling library of contemporary Irish novels—Claire Keegan’s Small Things Like These (2021), Paul Murray’s The Bee Sting (2023) and Colin Barrett’s Wild Houses (2024) just a few of them—that find stories in the gap between the thronging town and the open countryside." — Times Literary Supplement

"Murrin . . . brings his lived experiences to the story, and his focus on how two women strove for independence when divorce was still illegal is a moving, vivid story." — Town & Country

"The Coast Road is a powerful story and Alan Murrin is an exceptional new talent." — Sunday Independent

Product Details
ISBN: 9780063336520
ISBN-10: 0063336529
Publisher: HarperVia
Publication Date: June 4th, 2024
Pages: 320
Language: English