The Coast Road

Alan Murrin

The Coast Road
Bloomsbury Publishing PLC
United Kingdom
30 April 2024

The Coast Road

Alan Murrin

It's 1994 in County Donegal, Ireland, and everyone is talking about Colette Crowley the writer, the bohemian, the woman who left her husband and sons to pursue a relationship with a married man in Dublin. But now Colette is back, and nobody knows why.

Returning to the community to try and reclaim her old life, Colette quickly learns that they are unwilling to give it back to her. The man to whom she is still married is denying her access to her children, and while the legalisation of divorce might be just around the corner, Colette finds herself caught between her old life and the freedom for which she risked everything. Desperate to see her children, she enlists the help of Izzy, a housewife and mother of two, and the women forge a friendship that will send them on a spiralling journey one toward a path of self-discovery, and the other toward tragedy.

Brilliantly observed from a sharp new literary talent, The Coast Road is a novel about a closed community and the consequences of daring to move against the tide.


Izzy Keaveney is in an unhappy marriage; her friend Colette Crowley ruefully observes, ‘So what if your husband’s a bit of a bully, they all are in their own way.’ It’s 1994 in a small coastal town in County Donegal and legal divorce is two years away. Despite offering such advice, writer Colette has escaped her own unhappy marriage through a scandalous affair in Dublin; an affair that was ultimately lacking.

Denied access to her children, she returns to the town in the hope that she may be able to see them again, renting the desolate cottage above the Mullens’ house. Rumours fly around the village; Colette’s grasp for freedom has failed. For the other women in the village, caught in their own loveless marriages, Collette’s actions have given them a glimpse of the forbidden, but her fall is deserved and to be expected. Having dared to be independent, she is now alone in the cottage, drinking too much, her life in tatters. ‘Independence? This is what independence looks like Izzy,’ she tells her friend. The village takes a smug satisfaction in Colette’s fall from grace.

This is a compelling portrait of people whose lives are intertwined through their tight-knit community, whose lives and circumstances don’t always bring out the best in them. As the local priest remarks, ‘People really have terrible, difficult, hard lives,’ but sometimes redemption is possible. This is Alan Murrin’s first novel and it is brilliant!

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