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The Salt Garden Paperback – Feb 11 2007
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From Publishers Weekly
The lovely title of this Christian novel hints at its themes of shipwreck, youth lost and romance by the sea. In the waters beyond a small town on the Pacific coast, a shipwreck is being salvaged that will disclose secrets from the past. Martinusen (North of Tomorrow) tells her story from the viewpoints of three women. Claire O'Rourke is a San Francisco reporter recently returned to her small hometown of Harper's Bay for a short visit, but a contrived plot device leaves her back home for good and looking for work at The Tidal Post, a local newspaper. Her path soon intersects with that of Sophia Fleming, a 70-something reclusive author whom Claire has admired since childhood. When a salt-damaged book washes ashore, some long-buried secrets are illuminated through the journal entries of Josephine Vanderook, a passenger on an ill-fated ship. As the story unfolds, Martinusen introduces enjoyable characters: "Cap Charlie" is an old salt who makes lattes and espresso below decks; Claire's potential love interest, Griffin Anderson, is a scrap junk sculptor whose work is displayed on town roofs. Despite some good descriptions, Martinusen often overwrites ("glaze drips likes a lazy yawn onto the table") and the pacing, mired in description and wordiness, drags. The city-girl-returns-to-her-hometown theme has been done to death in CBA fiction, and the somewhat unfocused story never really takes off. However, Martinusen has potential, and despite the problems in this story, her talent shines through.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.
About the Author
Cindy Martinusen Coloma is the best-selling author of several novels including The Salt Garden, Beautiful, and Orchid House.
Top Customer Reviews
"If only grace came without the need for it."
"There is something fearful in revealing our true selves, allowing others to peer intimately inside. It takes such trust, and none of us is completely trustworthy."
"The past is like a coat I put on every morning, defining me in many ways."
If a book doesn't make me think more deeply about life, God and who I am, it's not worth my time. That's what I loved about Martinusen's book.
I also thought her multiple first person narrators were an interesting trio. I related a lot to Claire, the city news reporter who goes home to her small town with an inflated view of her importance. We all need to learn we're wrong about others and life sometimes.
I highly recommend "The Salt Garden."
San Francisco reporter Claire O'Rourke is a young woman who has returned to her hometown of Harper's Bay ostensibly for a visit, but winds up staying and taking a job at The Tidal Post when family circumstances change. As she settles into what turns out to be a much-needed change of pace, her path crosses with that of Sophia Fleming, a once-lauded and now-reclusive author in her seventies who lives on a small island off the coast. The character of Josephine Vanderook speaks from the pages of a saltwater-encrusted diary that Sophia finds in a rock pool on her morning walk.
Soon the voices of these three women are creating a sort of call-and-response in their alternating pages. Although Claire, Sophia and Josephine have many differences, their common threads of loving words and writing as well as their devotion to God begin to bind them together and lessen differences of time, age and circumstance. Sophia, who has been hoarding the diary to herself rather than give it to the town museum, finds that the new young woman on the scene seems very familiar to her, and when she allows Claire in to her home and read the diary pages, the faith of the two modern women is contrasted with their historical counterpart.
Martinusen's central message seems to be that everyone's path to faith --- Claire's, Sophia's, Josephine's --- takes a different course.Read more ›
Sophia has spent three decades hidden from everyone except for her only friend Ben Wilson, who refuses to allow her to become a total recluse. However, Ben sadly informs Sophia that his son wants him to move away and live with him; Sophia feels depressed that her only connection to the world might leave. Ben also gives Sophia a salt watered journal that apparently came ashore from the nearby salvaging of the wreckage of the Josephine. The book contains the diary entries of Josephine Vanderook, a passenger in 1933 on the Josephine when it went down. Claire and Sophia forge a friendship over dreams, the journal, and their different paths to God.
This is an entertaining character study that rotates narration between the two modern day women and the journal entries of Josephine. The story line enables the reader to contrast the trio. Claire has had an unwavering constant belief in God; Sophia found the healing of God after a tragedy left her practically a hermit; Finally Josephine in her shortened life marveled at the miracles God had provided her. Though San Francisco is portrayed as modern day Sodom while Harper's Bay is Eden (with a serpent) fans of contemporary Christian literature will appreciate this deep look at the paths of faith.
Also a serene read, it is one to be savored. Cindy's amazing desciptions of the small coastal town where the story takes place made me want to go there, even though it is a mythical spot. Her beautiful, moving details of the sea made me feel the wind whip through my hair and the waves bounce beneath my feet. The story kept my interest and I had to keep myself from looking ahead to see what happened.
It is told in multiple first person from three points of view: Claire - a young writer who returns home, not planning to stay; Sophia - a reclusive novelist who finds the world's pain too much to bear; and Josephine - a woman who, through her journal, reaches to the others from the grave. And it is Josephine, who is the catalyst that causes Sophia and Claire to reach beyond themselves, beyond their comfort zones, toward relationship.
The Salt Garden is the kind of book to take to that quiet place when everything is still. Then, with feet snuggled up and a cup of steaming Earl Grey nearby, open the covers, experience and enjoy.
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