Cover Image: The Salt House

The Salt House

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Member Reviews

The Kelly Family is suffering from grief.    The problem is that they don’t suffer together.   Each member is suffering in their own way and trying to come to terms accepting the loss of their baby sister/daughter.    

I felt that Lisa Duffy was able to portray the grief in realistic ways that made the family true to life.  I cannot imagine dealing with the loss of a daughter, much less a baby.   Hope tugged at my heart while watching her try to keep her family together.   She worked hard just to keep her head above water and keep her family “normal” especially for the other daughters.     While Jack, the father, kept his grief quiet, inside himself.     He struggled just like the rest of the family yet he kept it bundled up inside.     Add to this grief the return of an old rival and he is just set to implode.  

This is a debut author for Lisa Duffy and I am excited to read more from her.     The characters came to life, the emotions were realistic, and the story was beautiful.
I recommend finding a quiet place and sitting back to enjoy The Salt House.  Once you start you won’t be able to put it down.
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"the isolation of sorrow"

In a small Maine coastal town lives the Kelly family. Father Jack is a lobsterman. Mother Hope is a freelance writer for a parenting magazine. They have three two daughters. Jess is sixteen - Kat is eight.

Almost exactly one year ago, their third daughter, baby Maddie, passed away. The entire family is still reeling from their devastating loss.  Each experiences their bereavement in their own individual ways.  Each member of the Kelly family strive toward healing, but healing is slow to come...

The family were happy. They loved each other deeply and were in the process of renovating an old oceanfront dwelling called the 'Salt House'.  They planned to move into this house when the renovations were completed. Now, still suffering, they are merely passing time. Living day by day with their sadness and unable to find solace from their loss. 

The work of a lobsterman is arduous and exhausting. Jack works himself sick trying to pay the bills and the two mortgage payments.  Hope, riddled with guilt and self-recrimination, is unable to write for "Parent Talk" magazine as she feels that she is unqualified to advise other parents - hypocritical almost. 

Hope doesn't want to make love anymore... She has lost all interest in the "Salt House". She feels unable to face doing anything with Maddie's ashes.  They reside in her closet wrapped in a baby blanket.

Jack and another lobsterman are feuding over 'territory'. This feud impacts all members of the family in individual ways. He goes out everyday, in all weathers, in his boat the "Hope Ann". When he finds that someone has opened his traps, he in enraged.

Teenaged Jess is fearful that her family is falling apart. She meets a handsome boy and falls in love for the first time. She tries to keep this a secret because her father doesn't approve of her dating.

Kat misses her little sister AND the loving family she once knew.


The publisher's blurb said that this was a "gorgeously written debut" and they didn't exaggerate!  The novel is told via each family member’s perspective so we get an intimate look at what Jack, Hope, Jess and Kat are thinking and feeling. This gives the reader insight into how their grief is manifested and how each feels the loss in very different ways. It also shows how each family member strives to survive without Maddie and be there for each other.

The setting was well described. You can almost smell the salt tang of the air and hear the gulls wheeling above the lobster boat.  

The characters were written with empathy and understanding. I liked them all - in particular the teenage Jess and the long-suffering Jack.

The story of the Kelly family was a heart-breaking one, yet quite realistic in many ways.  I would definitely read another book by this debut author and look forward to doing so. Recommended to all readers of well written literary fiction.
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Unfortunately I couldn't engage in this book past three chapters so do not feel in a position to write a full review.
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I have picked this title up three times and I just can't connect with the characters and I lose interest. It seems like a good story and I have recommended it to customers as a book that is well liked. Sometimes you simply can't connect to a book.
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This is the kind of book which I like to read in between my thrillers. A book of loss and a family finding the strength to recover from that and start living again.
I started this book this afternoon and I couldn't put it down till I finished it. Each page made me read still further till I reached the end. 
The author Lisa Duffy has written this poignant tale seeped in emotions and each word adds to the story.  
Every member of the family has been affected by the death and even after one year, the cracks in their relationships persist. Death in the family can make or break that family, and Lisa brings home that point fervently. 
Death of a child is the most difficult thing for a mother to accept. Lisa has painted the mother, Hope with such detail, that one can't help but feel her pain and her guilt.  
All the members find their voices in the story,  and they have their own secrets. Lisa has written this book from each of their perspective and  how they view their broken family and deal with their grief.
The book goes a little wayward with Jack's past and the elder daughter's romance but on the whole, a beautiful read.
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Hope and Jack Kelly’s marriage has hit a speed bump. Hope has been depressed since the tragic death of their youngest daughter.  She cannot move forward from her grief and is unable to continue her work as a writer. The family is struggling to pay their bills due to renovations on their second home named,  “The Salt House”. They can’t seem to finish the construction which forces them to continue making payments for two homes. 

Jack works as a lobsterman in Maine and is part owner of the business.  Work has helped him avoid his grief and to ignore his marital problems. His two teenage daughters are in the background watching their parent’s marriage implode. Jack's feels threatened when his high school rival, Finn, moves back to town and makes claims to their family’s lobster business.  The added stress begins to build and Jack lashes out at family and friends.  His unresolved grief and hidden secrets are in need of an outlet.   

The Salt House is an interesting perspective of how burying problems can lead to deep rooted consequences. This is portrayed very clearly as each family member of the Kelly household narrates a chapter from their perspectives. This is a debut novel by Lisa Duffy.
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The Salt House is a fantastic first novel by Lisa Duffy. She takes tragedy and shows the struggles the characters face to live day to day. Duffy creates an excellent, believable plot. Her writing is wonderful and heartfelt. 

Duffy develops the plot and problems well. She puts the reader in the midst of the story. She helps them to really feel like they are part of the family. Each character can be connected to on some level. They are well developed characters and seem like those that may be in our lives. 

I would recommend this book if you like realistic fiction about trade by, grief, loss, and healing. It gives readers all the feels, and shows just how great Duffy is as a writer. I can't wait to read more of her work.
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Heartbreaking, warm and real, I couldn't put The Salt House down. The writing is compelling and confident and I'm already awaiting another book by this debut author. Highly recommended read!
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Let me preface this review with the fact that this is not my preferred genre - family drama tinged with romance, but I have many friends who enjoy this genre and will definitely enjoy this book. The premise surrounds a married couple left with two daughters, age eight and sixteen, after suffering the tragic death of their baby the previous summer. The story uses different narrators that do a decent job of showing the experience of the loss through different perspectives: the husband, who focuses on his job as a Maine fisherman, working himself to death to ignore the pain; the mother, previously a writer who can no longer write a word and is paralyzed by the death of her daughter, unable to move on; the teenage daughter who is finding her first teenage love amidst the worry over her family; and the youngest daughter, who brings an immature voice yet sees through honest eyes.  At times, I wanted the author to grapple more deeply with real issues, such as the financial devastation, the impact on the two daughters and survivor guilt, the impact on the marriage. While Duffy touches on all of these things, I wanted her to go deeper and grittier, yet I think perhaps that's not the genre? At times it felt a bit saccharine for me, yet I was also intrigued by the story as I kept turning pages. The characters are well-developed, just a bit stereotypical for me at times. As this is Lisa Duffy's debut, I look forward to what she does the second time around, perhaps pushing the envelope a bit more.
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Truly enjoyed this book. Granted, there were things that didn't work well for me, but for the most port I liked it.
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please see above regarding review. thank you for the opportunity.
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The Kelly's are a fishing family from Maine, devastated by the loss of their darling baby, Maddie. Once close, the pain and anguish of grieving has taken it's toll, slowly teasing apart their relationships. The Salt House is a master class in characterisation, as we feel for grieving mother, Hope; meet workaholic, guilt-ridden father, Jack; empathise with teenage daughter, Jess, who willingly dons the mantle of responsibility for keeping everyone around her from falling apart. Whilst innocent young Kat, bullied at school, paints on a brave face, knowing only too well her parents have bigger problems to address.

Lisa Duffy writes in a style similar to Diane Chamberlain and Jodi Picoult - two authors I love.

Being born and brought up in a small fishing village in NE Scotland, I read a lot in The Salt House that sounded familiar. I loved the relationships between the fishermen, particularly the gruff affection displayed between Jack and his best mate, Boon. 

But it was the Kelly's teenage daughter, Jess, who brought real sparkle to the novel and lifted The Salt House from a good to a brilliant read. Without creating any spoilers, the intensity of Jess's experience of first love is captured perfectly, being both heart-breaking and up-lifting. The Salt House is a stunning debut and I look forward to reading more by Lisa Duffy.
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My first impression of this book has to have been a really positive one.
I've never read any of Lisa Duffy's books before but certainly will be looking out for her work in future. Her clever weaving of the story works perfectly and I found myself really drawn into the whole story within the first few chapters.
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This book is one of the best I have read in 2017 and also going down on my favorites list. This is a heart wrenching story of loss and secrets and eventually learning to live again
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In a small coastal fishing town in Maine and family is attempting to cope with the death of their youngest family member, Maddie, who died in her crib. This book details the family's attempt to deal with their grief, heartbreak and to find a way to move on. This book is told through the family member's voices. Hope is the Mother who used to be a writer but has found that she cannot write anything since her daughter died. Jack is a lobster fisherman who throws himself into his work to help support his family - even more now that his wife is not working and their relationship has suffered since their daughter's death. Jess is a teenager watching her parent's relationship suffer while attempting to have one of her own. She finds herself drawn to the son of her father's rival. Kate is a young girl trying to make sense of her own grief and the grief of that of her family members.

A year has passed and Hope (her Mother) is having great difficulty moving on. She does not want to spread her daughter's ashes and does not want to return to the Salt House - a home her husband (Jack) inherited and they are fixing up. Hope spent the last days of her daughter's life at the Salt House with her and finds it difficult to return to where Maddie was conceived and spent her last day. She knows that this is affecting her marriage but feels stuck and does not know how to let go and continue her life. Jack is suffering in silence and works hard long hours not only as an escape but to take care of his family.

Their lives are further pushed to the brink, when Ryland Finn moves back to town and wants his old fishing grounds back. There is instant tension and hints dropped that past hurts/grievances/issues from their past have not been laid to rest but are festering beneath the surface waiting to explode and affect all of their lives. Jack has a secret that he does not want to share with Hope. Again, he keeps silent throwing himself into his work and doesn't want to take the advice of his best friend who wants desperately to help.

This book is about a family trying to move on after a heartbreaking loss. Saying goodbye to a loved one and letting go are hard. How does one let go and move on? What power do secrets have over our lives? How do your forgive your past mistakes? 

This debut novel was very moving and emotional. This is a beautiful and poignant book about love, loss, hope, friendship, moving on, and grief. As a reader, I could feel the family's pain and loss. The characters (most of them)are likable and I rooted for them to find healing and peace a year after their loved one's death. Nothing in this book felt rushed. The length was perfect. I felt as if I was riding on their sea of grief with them. Love, loss, grief, guilt, moving on are difficult themes which were discussed with grace and care in this moving book.

I received a copy of this book from Touchstone and NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.
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I received this ARC from in exchange for a review. 

Set in coastal Maine, Hope and Jack had a beautiful life. Beautiful children, great house, growing business. Their baby doesn't wake up from a nap and their lives start spiraling down.

I found the pace of the story kind of slow and didn't really connect with the characters. Maybe I just wasn't in the right mood to read it. 

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My thoughts on this title will appear on my blog ( on June 20/17.

This book captivated me. It was absolutely stunning. I fell in love with it after only a few pages. Honestly, I don't even know where to begin writing about it.

The Salt House was told through the point of view of each member of the Kelly family. The reader got inside the head of Hope and Jack (the parents) and Jess and Kat (the children) one year after the tragic death of the youngest member of the family. Each one of them was dealing with their grief in a different way and the family as a whole was struggling to keep things together.

This book was ultimately about loss and grief and figuring out how to move forward and carry on. Each member of the family had a story and a way of dealing with their sadness. Not all of them were healthy and there were many conflicts because of it. As the reader, I felt so many different emotions as I made my way through the story. From Kat's confusion and Jess' crush to the marital struggles of Hope and Jack, I was feeling it all. It is a sign of a great story when I feel the characters so deeply.

The setting of this book also deserves mention. The town of Alden, Maine and the Salt House were front and centre in the telling of this remarkable story. I could picture them both so clearly that I could almost feel the salt air on my skin. Duffy did such a wonderful job describing them that I wished I were there.

I would not hesitate in recommending this book to readers. With a moving plot and beautiful setting it is sure to satisfy any book worms literary craving!
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The cover of this book is what drew me in.

It's been a year of grief for the Kelly family, each are coping in their own way with the sudden death of the daughter/sister Maddie, who as a toddler stopped breathing in her sleep. It's about a family trying to put themselves back together after a traumatic experience but some old wounds are reopened after the reappearance of an old enemy.

I found this quite slow at the beginning. I don't think I really connected with any of the characters although I did feel for them. But as I became more immersed in the story, I became more drawn into their life and in all honesty the last half of the book was a quick read. Enjoyable but it didn't pull at my emotions like I thought it would.

Thank you to Netgalley and the Publisher for granting a copy to read and review.
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The Salt House is one of the most gut-wrenching, heartbreaking novels that I have read in quite a long time, maybe if ever.  I knew going into the story that it was about the loss of a young toddler, but the story emotionally overwhelmed me for so many reasons. I completely empathized and sympathized with the Kelly family, especially Hope and Jack as they dealt with the loss of their baby girl because I know much too well what it is like to be very close to someone who lost a child. A few years ago my sister-in-law lost a child at 26 weeks and as a family member, I was allowed to hold the baby before she passed away. I will never forget the tiny little weight of her against my body and her smell. Or my sister-in-law's overwhelming grief that was exactly like Hope's. Both Hope's reaction and Jack's were raw, powerful, and brutal but so real and absolutely honest.  The realism hurts even if you have no personal situation to relate to but the realism makes the story all the more beautiful and convincing.

It is Hope's and Jack's reactions to Maddie's accidental death, as well as the struggles of their other two daughters Jess, age 16 and Kat, age 8 to deal with the loss of their baby sister and the stresses and changes in their parents that made this story a deserving albeit very difficult read. Duffy brilliantly writes the story from the point of view from all four members of the Duffy family, and it is each of their unique perspectives that really helps you understand what life is like for not only the family as a whole but each of them individually since they lost baby Maddie.

It was Hope who I most felt for and empathized with since she was so wrapped in guilt and was unable to move on from Maddie's death that she became emotionally absent from her husband and other two daughters. You could feel her pain so vividly that you just wanted to hold her and tell her she was not alone! You really wanted to tell her there were so many others like her who had been in her shoes and life does move on...slowly but surely. It was hard not to feel her overwhelming guilt that she had been busy writing for her parenting column while Maddie died in her crib, and understand why she couldn't let go of Maddie...the blame, despair, or her ashes. The blame is the hardest issue Hope deals with since it was always needling her thoughts and had her asking"what if"...

Jack's reaction may come across as harsh since he channels his grief in nonstop work, but he has no idea how to grieve, which the reader understands more fully at the book's end.  Yes, it is a bit frustrating at times that he will not talk or share his feelings, but most men don't. Men often bury their grief, especially when they see their wives lost and drowning since they often don't know what to do when they are being constantly pushed away by their wives, so he puts all the blame for everything that has happened on his shoulders. With Hope no longer working and two mortgages to pay, one on their house in town and the other on their beloved Salt House cottage, working and providing for his family was also the only way he knew to be there and support his family. I liked Jack and understood his grief as a form of desperation and self-blame even when he acted stupid and too angry at times. 

Jess and Kat just stole my heart. It was really hard to read how they were struggling with the loss of their sister but more so to read about their pain of seeing their parents fighting and the dramatic change in their family after growing up with almost perfect family dynamics. Jess was a great narrator, and her story is wonderful as she is so close to being an adult and sees so closely the problems between her parents in a way even they do not understand. She's angry with both her mother and father..Hope for her emotional absence and Jack for his self-blame. Kat is an adorable narrator and although she is still confused about Maddie's death since Hope refuses to scatter Maddie's ashes or have a ceremony, she understands her mother's needs and what would make Maddie the happiest. That part of the book (not to give away any spoilers) made me cry probably the hardest. 

I would have given the book 5 stars except for the entire part with Ryland Finn, Jack's nemesis from his youth. Except for the fact that Finn's stepson and Jess fall in love, the whole Finn and Jack as enemies subplot was just drawn out and really added nothing to the story at all. It was like filler material that I could have done without. If it was meant to add action or drama to the story, it really did not. 

Regardless, I loved Duffy's writing. It was wonderful, perfectly paced since this is not a book you want to rush through, and the main characters are lovely although imperfect. The Salt House is a heartbreaking, roller coaster emotional read, and tells how grief can devastate a family but also bring them back together stronger than before.

*Thank you, NetGalley, Touchstone, and Lisa Duffy for an ARC of this book to read in exchange for my honest and unbiased fair review. *
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Set in the coastal town of Alden, Maine, this wonderful debut novel revolves around how one young family deals with life-shattering grief. It's told in the four alternating voices of the Kelly family: Jack, a hard-working lobster fisherman, the strong, silent type who doesn't easily share his feelings; Hope, his beautiful wife, a freelance writer who cannot now put pen to paper; Jess, their sixteen-year-old daughter, on the cusp of womanhood, and eight-year-old, irrepressible Kat, who doesn't really understand what is going on with her family. 

A year has passed since baby Maddie died in her crib but the family has not been able to move on--in fact, things are devolving and the once-happy marriage seems to be falling apart. To make matters worse, Ryland Finn, an old enemy of Jack's, is back in town and wants his old lobster territory back--an area Jack needs to support his family and pay two mortgages: one on their home and one on the Salt House, their cottage. 

Running through the story is a guilty secret from Jack's past that he keeps to himself. Hope begs him to tell her what it is but Jack can't bring himself to share: "Hope turned off the light, and there was darkness, overtaking me. A thick black oil spreading through my body, heavy and suffocating, making it difficult to breathe. I wondered if I had brought this year to us; if losing her was payback for my mistakes; the universe handing me what I deserved." 

Jack was my favorite character. He wanted so badly to fix things, to make it better for everyone. But the only way he knew how to do that was work, work, work, pushing himself to exhaustion. 

Jess's observation about her father and Kat: "They pushed away the things that bothered them and filled the space with movement. Always busy, always doing something, no time for sitting around mulling things over." 

Jack's best friend and partner, Boon, calls him 'pigheaded and stubborn' when he won't let him help the Kellys out financially but Jack learned self-reliance from his father: "First you borrow, and then you beg" was his warning.

Grandma is visiting from Florida and adds a comic element to the story with her pithy sayings. But this once she is right on: "So much of life is finding that balance. The balance of holding on and letting go." She thinks it is time for her daughter to let go: of her grief but more specifically, of Maddie's ashes, which are hidden in her closet. Isn't it time to move on? Maddie needs to realize she is not alone in her grief.

I look forward to reading more from this talented new author. Duffy has the ability to bring her characters to life, help the reader to understand their emotions, guilt, reactions and motivations. The voices are pretty distinctive--only on a few occasions, when picking up the book mid-chapter, did I have a moment of confusion about which character was speaking. The gorgeous Maine setting is worth experiencing too. Do a little arm-chair vacationing this summer and read this book!

*Thanks to NetGalley, the publisher and author for the opportunity to read an arc of this book in exchange for an honest review.
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