Friday, July 19, 2013

Book Review & Giveaway: Sweet Salt Air

By Miriam Plotinsky

A couple of weeks ago, my husband and I went on a mini-vacation to the beach for some rare time off. It rained almost the entire time we were gone, but I didn’t care because, to paraphrase an old travel commercial, "a bad day at the beach is better than a great day anywhere else." When we got back, a much more well-rested and friendly version of me kept the relaxed vibe going with Barbara Delinsky’s Sweet Salt Air, a novel that takes place on an enviably sensuous and private Maine island called Quinnipeague.

The book opens with Charlotte, a wandering writer who picks up freelance jobs all over the world. Despite strong hesitation, she decides to spend the summer in Quinnipeague when her childhood best friend, Nicole, asks for help writing a cookbook about the island’s legendary fare. Because of a dark secret from the past, Charlotte hasn’t been to the island in years, but she capitulates out of a strong sense of obligation to Nicole. As they spend the summer collecting island recipes that feature the potent herbs of a mysterious island woman and her son, Charlotte finds herself getting sucked back into the drama that resulted from a major betrayal years before.

Much of the book’s appeal comes not from the mystery behind Charlotte’s hesitation in going back to Quinnipeague, which is revealed fairly early in the book, but rather from the suspense surrounding Nicole’s husband, Julian, who has Multiple Sclerosis. Julian, a noted surgeon, is intent on trying an experimental treatment with umbilical stem cells to improve his condition, since the MS tremors have interfered with his ascendant career. However, because the treatment could incapacitate or even kill him, he and Nicole are in constant turmoil as they try to navigate the path to potential recovery.  Adding to the drama is Charlotte’s budding relationship with a reclusive islander, Leo. As Julian gets sicker and Charlotte’s relationship with Leo becomes increasingly and unexpectedly serious, the characters are forced to decide just how much they will change the lives and habits that have entrapped them for so long.

Sweet Salt Air is full of sensory delights. Food is featured in a detailed, loving way that indicates a true respect for the culinary arts. In fact, sometimes the story almost takes a backseat to the gathering of recipes and the descriptions of table settings, but it’s a welcome break from the intensity of feeling that the characters experience. As for the story itself, while it is sinfully escapist, it occasionally pushes suspension of disbelief a little far. One of the characters lives in a house that just seems too good to be true given his circumstances, but it still feels luxurious to read about a place like that. As for the stem cell cure that Julian is intent on receiving, the fairy-tale denouement of that episode might leave a sour taste in the mouths of those who struggle with MS. Then again, it could also provide a ray of hope.

Either way, Delinsky’s latest novel provides a welcome respite from day-to-day struggles. A real beach vacation is lovely, of course, but in its place, a visit to Quinnipeague functions as a good placebo for actual salt air.

Thanks to Wunderkind PR for the book in exchange for an honest review. They also have one copy for a lucky reader in the US or Canada.

How to win:    
Please tell us your favorite thing to do at the beach.

One entry per person.

Please include your e-mail address or another way to reach you if you win.

US/Canada only. Giveaway ends July 24th at midnight EST.

More by Barbara Delinsky:




36 comments:

Janine said...

This sounds like a great book to read this summer. My favorite thing to do at the beach is just looking out at the waves and listening them them crashing. It's about the only way I can really relax.
Janine
kinini01@hotmail.com

Kelly RS said...

Soak up the sun and READ!

krshowalterATyahoo

Susan Foster O'Bryant said...

I love to swim in the ocean! The waves and salty water are just simple fun.

susanobryant at gmail dot com

Gail said...

I love to sit on the beach and read a good book. If it gets too warm than cool off in the water and come back and read some more...repeat as necessary.
gaildemaree@att.net

Bonnie K. said...

My favorite thing to do at the beach is to walk near the water and having it splash on me as the waves roll. Then, I like sitting and watching the waves and listening to it. Very therapeutic.

bluedawn95864 at gmail dot com

Taren said...

Definitely reading is my top favourite thing to do at the beach!

TinaB said...

I love reading on the beach with my toes in the sand!
Brannanflooring@aol.com

AiringMyDirtyLaundry said...

My favorite thing to do on the beach is read and eat!

Princess543@yahoo.com

Connie said...

I live in southwest Florida which means I’m lucky enough to go to the beach year round. My favorite thing to do is sit under the umbrella enjoying the breezes and read! We usually go early in the morning and stay through lunch which is at a little outdoor restaurant on the water. I always come home feeling so relaxed!

Linda Kish said...

Soak up the sun and read a good book.

lkish77123 at gmail dot com

Jilleen said...

collect seashells and treasures!

DD said...

I just like being able to get the beach. Period. I'm in land-locked Kansas! Just getting there is an accomplishment. Second to that, it's snorkeling.

dawndennis66611 at yahoo dot com

Anita Yancey said...

My favorite thing to do at the beach during the day is read a good book. When the sun is setting I like to walk on the beach. Thanks for having the giveaway.

ayancey(at)dishmail(dot)net

Stephanie said...

My favorite thing to do at the beach is to walk on the sand and enjoy the view.

skk25@aol.com

Amber Johnson said...

My favorite thing to do at the beach is read, followed closely behind with jumping in the waves!

missamberljohnson at gmail dot com

bn100 said...

go swimming

bn100candg at hotmail dot com

Jennifer Huelsebusch said...

Get some sun and read!

Jhuelsebusch@sbcglobal.net

pasc said...

my favorite thing to do near the beach is walk.
Sounds like a good read.
pascale.poitras@verizon.net

Charlotte said...

Sit in a chair and look at the water and read. Do not care to get in the walk.
CABW1@bellsouth.net

Ingeborg said...

I love walking on the beach and I get very excited when I find an unusual seashell.

Kit3247(at)aol(dot)com

Nova said...

My favorite thing to do at the beach is relax. I usually read a book or watch the waves come in.

Anonymous said...

Fav thing to do at the beach is read and drink a cold diet coke!

melinda.garza15@yahoo.com

Jennifer L. said...

I love to walk along the beach and just sit and stare out at the water.

jentam777 at gmail dot com

Hailey Fish said...

The rare days I go to the beach, I like walking along the water, letting the waves soak my feet and legs.

fishiegirl22@yahoo.com

Mrs Mommy Booknerd said...

I love to build sand castles and swim with my boys!

Mrsmommybooknerdsbookreviews@gmail.com

Heather said...

I love to play in the sand!

faithspage said...

Walk on the beach or just lay out.
kyfaithw at aol dot com

Meg Munson said...

My favorite thing to do at the beach is relax in my beach chair with my toes in the sand and a good book!!! Love the sound of the ocean in the background...so relaxing:-)

megmunson@me.com

rubynreba said...

I love walking along the beach and feeling the sand in my toes.
pbclark(at)netins(dot)net

Jessica said...

I just like to walk on the beach and feel the water.

jessdeleon (at) aol (dot) com

BCT said...

I just enjoy people watching. The best people to watch being the kids!
bridgett_gx@yahoo.com

Charlotte Lynn said...

That is tough...people watch.. catch some sun...read a book...have a good drink

mep said...

Two favorite beach activities: sitting and reading!

mep AT nottobrag DOT net

Melissa said...

Thanks to everyone for participating and telling us your favorite beach activities.

Thanks to Wunderkind PR for sharing the book with our winner.

Random.org chose one winner from all entries with contact info (one entry per person).

Congrats to Jessica (jessdeleon)!

Connie said...

Congratulations, Jessica! Enjoy!

Dianne Robertson said...

Congratulations Jessica!