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Reading Group Guide

Discussion Questions


1. How would you characterize the villages of Les Salants and La Houssinière? What are some of the advantages each has over the other? How does Les Immortelles play a role in this power dynamic? Were you surprised by the tensions between the Sallanais and the Houssins? Did their conflict remind you of any other rivalry?

2. What explains Mado Prasteau's return to Les Salants? How does she earn a living? How would you describe her relationships with her mother and father?

3. The festival of Sainte-Marine-de-la-Mer is one of the traditional religious celebrations of the village of Les Salants. What happens when Mado makes eye contact with her father during the shoreside ritual? Who helps restore the Saint to the village?

4. How would you describe Jean-Claude Brismand's relationship with Mado? What does he offer her in exchange for her father's land? What is his connection to Adrienne Prasteau? Did you find him a sympathetic character? Why or why not?

5. What does the attempted rescue of the Eleanore reveal about tensions between La Houssinière and Les Salants? How do the Bastonnet and Guénolé families respond? How do the Salannais feel toward Mado after this?

6. Who is Rouget/Richard Flynn? How does Mado first become acquainted with him? What questionable behavior does she catch him involved in? How does he help the people of Les Salants?

7. How does the return of the Saint to her niche affect the villagers of Les Salants? How do the nuns, Soeur Thérèse and Soeur Extase, interpret her reappearance? How does her return lead the Salannais to build the artificial reef?

8. Analyze some of the complicated sibling relationships in Coastliners. Focus on P'titJean and GrosJean Prasteau, and Mado and Adrienne Prasteau in your discussion.

9. How does the appearance of new sand on Les Salants reanimate its inhabitants? What other positive developments occur in the village as a result of the changing coastline?

10. How does the threat of the oil spill galvanize the Salannais? What transformation in the villagers is evident at second festival of Sainte-Marine-de-la-Mer? What Black Tide eventually turns up on the beaches of Les Salants? How is this benign Black Tide accomplished?

by Joanne Harris

  • Publication Date: September 1, 2003
  • Genres: Fiction
  • Paperback: 368 pages
  • Publisher: Harper Perennial
  • ISBN-10: 0060958014
  • ISBN-13: 9780060958015