THE GILLY SALT SISTERS

In her second novel, Baker (The Little Giant of Aberdeen County, 2009) follows the lives of two sisters whose family has always harvested salt that may or may not have magical powers over their Cape Cod community.

The town of Prospect (a town unbelievably untouched by modern life or tourists) depends on salt from the Gilly Salt Creek Farm for luck; the residents read their futures in the colors rising from Gilly salt thrown on the annual bonfire. Although the Gillys attend the same Catholic Church as everyone else in town, the feared power of their salt makes them permanent outsiders. As the book opens, the Gilly sisters have grown estranged. Younger, pretty Claire has married local rich boy (and her sister Jo's former boyfriend) Whit Turner, and joined local society, while Jo remains on the struggling farm. Why is Whit so anxious to buy Jo out and Claire so anxious to turn people against Jo's salt? Flashbacks show Jo has always been committed to harvesting the salt since her childhood in the 1950s, while book-smart Claire always wanted desperately to get away. Jo’s one childhood playmate was Whit, son of the wealthiest family in town. Whit’s mother wanted the children to have nothing to do with each other, and Jo’s mother was equally unenthusiastic. Shortly before charming but headstrong Whit left town for boarding school, he tried to proclaim his love to Jo. But having learned a family secret—one that most readers will guess way too soon—Jo broke off their budding romance. Years later, after Claire's boyfriend broke her heart by becoming a priest, a newly returned Whit wooed her. Twelve years later their marriage has soured. Then Whit begins an affair with a lonely young girl who has recently arrived in Prospect. When she becomes pregnant, Whit shows his darker side and all hell breaks loose. There are two fires, one accidental and one perhaps unintentionally lethal, before a discomfortingly amoral happy ending. Baker’s gift for richly embroidered fantasy only partially compensates for the novel’s inconsistency. Alice Hoffman–lite.

 

Pub Date: March 14, 2012

ISBN: 978-0-446-19423-5

Page Count: 384

Publisher: Grand Central Publishing

Review Posted Online: Feb. 16, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2012

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A romantic, sad, and ultimately hopeful book that’s perfect for fans of Jojo Moyes.

GHOSTED

In Walsh’s American debut, a woman desperately tries to find out why the man she spent a whirlwind week with never called.

Sarah has just separated from her American husband and is visiting her hometown in England when she meets Eddie. He’s kind and charming, and although they only spend one week together, she falls in love. When he has to leave for a trip, she knows they’ll keep in touch—they’re already making plans for the rest of their lives. But then Eddie never calls, and Sarah’s increasingly frantic efforts to contact him are fruitless. Is he hurt? Is he dead? As her friends tell her, there’s a far greater likelihood that he’s just blowing her off—she’s been ghosted. After trying to track Eddie down at a football game, Sarah starts to become ashamed of herself—after all, she’s almost 40 years old and she’s essentially stalking a man who never called her. But as Sarah slowly learns, she and Eddie didn’t actually meet randomly—they both have a connection to an accident that happened years ago, and it may have something to do with why he disappeared. The tension quickly amps up as the secrets of Eddie’s and Sarah’s pasts are revealed, and the truth behind their connection is genuinely surprising and heartbreaking. The barriers between Sarah and Eddie seem insurmountable at times, and although their issues are resolved in a tidy manner, the emotions behind their actions are always believable. Walsh has created a deeply moving romance with an intriguing mystery and a touching portrait of grief at its heart.

A romantic, sad, and ultimately hopeful book that’s perfect for fans of Jojo Moyes.

Pub Date: July 24, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-525-52277-5

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Pamela Dorman/Viking

Review Posted Online: May 1, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2018

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An ambitious and bewitching gem of a book with mystery and passion inscribed on every page.

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THE STARLESS SEA

A withdrawn graduate student embarks on an epic quest to restore balance to the world in this long-anticipated follow-up to The Night Circus (2011).

Zachary Ezra Rawlins is a typical millennial introvert; he likes video games, escapist reading, and drinking sidecars. But when he recognizes himself in the pages of a mysterious book from the university library, he's unnerved—and determined to uncover the truth. What begins as a journey for answers turns into something much bigger, and Zachary must decide whether to trust the handsome stranger he meets at a highflying literary fundraiser in New York or to retreat back to his thesis and forget the whole affair. In a high-wire feat of metatextual derring-do, Morgenstern weaves Zachary's adventure into a stunning array of linked fables, myths, and origin stories. There are pirates and weary travelers, painters who can see the future, lovers torn asunder, a menacing Owl King, and safe harbors for all the stories of the world, far below the Earth on the golden shores of a Starless Sea. Clocking in at more than 500 pages, the novel requires patience as Morgenstern puts all the pieces in place, but it is exquisitely pleasurable to watch the gears of this epic fantasy turn once they're set in motion. As in The Night Circus, Morgenstern is at her best when she imagines worlds and rooms and parties in vivid detail, right down to the ballroom stairs "festooned with lanterns and garlands of paper dipped in gold" or a cloak carved from ice with "ships and sailors and sea monsters...lost in the drifting snow." This novel is a love letter to readers as much as an invitation: Come and see how much magic is left in the world. Fans of Neil Gaiman and V.E. Schwab, Kelly Link and Susanna Clarke will want to heed the call.

An ambitious and bewitching gem of a book with mystery and passion inscribed on every page.

Pub Date: Nov. 5, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-385-54121-3

Page Count: 512

Publisher: Doubleday

Review Posted Online: Aug. 4, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2019

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