The Gilly Salt Sisters by Tiffany Baker

In Baker’s sophmore outing (after The Little Giant of Aberdeen County), she builds a story around a small New England coastal town and three incredible women whose lives are rooted in the earth. Jo and Claire are the Gilly sisters, born to a life working the salt marsh, tied to the evanescent, magical properties of the salt itself and its ability to foretell the future and save or ruin lives. Both of their lives are marked by tragedy as they grow older, one a physical tragedy and the other a hidden, emotional tragedy. Their lives are altered, too, by the town’s favorite son, Whit Turner, who seems to love them both in turn, but keeps much to himself as well. Into this complicated world of salt and secrets comes Dee, a motherless teenager with a tendency to follow where she is beckoned by handsome, charismatic men. The narrative is reminiscent of Alice Hoffman in its tendency to harken to the fantastic in the everyday. Baker has written a lovely, lively, engaging novel about strong women and their choices and how their ultimate loyalties lie with the land and each other. The ending, however, in which a character makes an unfortunate mistake and several others suffer the consequences (nicely foreshadowed earlier in the book), then is rewarded with everything she ever wanted, provides a complicated, if unsettling denouement to a harshly beautiful novel.

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1 Comment

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One response to “The Gilly Salt Sisters by Tiffany Baker

  1. Judithe Thompson

    “a complicated world of salt and secrets”–what a lovely phrase!

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