The Orphan of Salt Winds

Pub Date:   |   Archive Date: 31 Dec 2018

Member Reviews

This is a slowly-creeps-up-on-you book. I enjoyed it, but it's difficult to say what it made me feel. There's a bit of mystery to it, there's yearning, there's some coming of age along with feeling your age. There's some darkness, and some light, and lots of gray in between. This is a book for when you want a moody read with a not happy (but not exactly sad) ending, something atmospheric. The descriptions really make you feel there, chilled physically and emotionally. Perfect for a rainy day.
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Thank you to Netgalley and the publisher for giving me the opportunity to read and review this book. I ended up giving The Orphan of Salt Winds 3 stars. I would describe this book as a darker Anne of Green Gables meets Where the Crawdads Sing with a touch of Kate Morton. The story alternates between 10 year old and 85 year old Virginia. When Virginia was 10 years old something happened, something painful, that shaped the course of her life. And the story alternates between that story and Virginia at the end of her life. 

This book was character driven and mysterious. I kept turning pages wondering what had happened all those years ago. Many books are described as atmospheric, and this is yet another. The setting of both the marsh and the house loom large and set the tone for this book. I loved most of this book and found it to be engaging. However I didn’t connect with the ending and a couple other plot choices. So that bumped my rating down to a 3. Worth a read. If you enjoy Kate Morton, check this book out!
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2.5 stars  I have to admit that I was a little let down with this one. It had real promise of being a Gothic English tale, but fell flat. It did have a bit of the atmospheric feel of the marsh, but the story itself was a bit bland. I would have liked for Virginia to be a little more developed. This is a dual timeline and the present storyline seemed a bit thrown together - we get a "mysterious child" showing up on Virginia's doorstep who I don't think really added anything to the story. Overall, just a bit of a letdown for me.


**Thank you to the publisher and Net Galley in exchange of an honest review.**
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This had tons of atmosphere and a great setting. The marsh itself is a whole separate character. I love it when inanimate objects are characters in their own right. In some ways, this was reminiscent of Jane Eyre in feel and tone, but the plot wasn't as satisfying. It was still a very good read, though.
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In England, it’s 1939, and ten-year-old Virginia has been adopted by a couple who live in an isolated house on the edge of a marsh. Her new parents are Clem and Lorna, and what a pair they are. Their marriage is a temperamental one with dark secrets, and Virginia quickly becomes aware of this though she cannot fully understand. 

Clem becomes an ally and bonds with Virginia, but otherwise, there’s a nosy neighbor and moody Lorna. One day a German fighter airman crashes into the marsh, and Clem rescues him...What follows is a crime that haunts Virginia the rest of her life. 

Many years later, Virginia returns to the marsh in search of healing, and she finds it in the form of a teenage girl with secrets of her own. 

The landscape is beautifully drawn, and I could see and smell the marsh. There’s an engaging mystery at the heart of the story and a true gothic, atmospheric feel. I overall enjoyed the story, but I wished for a little more- more character development and more atmosphere across both timelines. It’s a positive that I wanted more because I was invested, but I also was left wanting more like it could have been just a smidge more to be a more fleshed out story. Elizabeth Brooks’ talent shines, and I’m looking forward to her next effort. 

Thank you to the publisher for the complimentary copy. All opinions are my own.
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I absolutely loved the sense of place in this story! It is a perfect novel to curl up with, lost in tangled family secrets and delightful characters.
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Oddly enough, it looks like this was published earlier this year as Call of the Curlew, and reviews generally echo my reading experience. Brooks delivers a solid, shivering, atmospheric piece centering on an old tragedy. She uses the common alternating time convention, switching between 1939 and the present day as she tells the story of Virginia and how she came to Salt Winds. The characters are vividly drawn and the story clever and suspenseful. This stands with the best of Kate Morton and M.J. Rose. Well done.
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This is a book I could not put down.  It is narrated by an 80 year old woman who retells her story of coming to a secluded house at the edge of a marsh to meet her adoptive parents. She arrives in England 1939 and now she tells family secrets and facets of the war and liberation are explored.  It is well paced and the characters are well defined.
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10 year old Virginia is adopted by Clem and Lorna, a couple who lives at Salt Winds, a house on the edge of the marsh.  Virginia is warned from day one not to venture into the marsh, it's tides and sinkholes a constant danger.  The book alternates point of view with an elderly Virginia, who is ready to die.  Young Virginia find herself dodging the attentions of Max Deering, their widowed neighbor.  When a German plane crashes in the Marsh, Clem ventures out to rescue the pilot.  He never returns.

This book was a bit difficult to read.  The story did not seem to flow well.  Young Virginia appeared much older than 10.  At 10, she wasn't a very believable character.  Old Virginia was very hard to like, which made her sections slow reading.  Overall, a bust.
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What an interesting book.  it starts off fairly slow but pulls the reader in and just won't let go. And let's talk about that ending!!! very good book.
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At first, I wasn’t sure about this novel. The first few pages had me a bit discombobulated. However, once I got into the story of Virginia, a 10 year old orphan who was going to live with Clem and Lorna at their house at the beginning of the United Kingdom’s involvement in the second world war, I was intrigued. The story was very different than others of World War II I have previously read. I enjoyed the feeling of being unaware of what was really going on in different situations and feel that it greatly benefitted the portrayal of Virginia as a young woman. The innocence was very clear in the book. 

I would definitely recommend this, it is a fairly quick read and definitely something with which to curl up along with a cup of hot chocolate, under a blanket.
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I loved this book. The author did a great job of making me feel like I was right there with the characters. I’m picky about mysteries - I have to get pulled in by the characters or the setting and this book did both! I could hardly put it down.
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The Orphan of Salt Winds has some good writing and some okay writing. It’s not a bad first effort but neither is it great. The plot just didn’t quite work for me. Something is missing to pull it together effectively.

The atmosphere is good, and I loved the setting, but I didn’t feel the author made the most of it. It opens with Virginia, the orphan brought to Salt Wind as a child who is now in her 80s, “knowing” that the day has come for her to weigh down her pockets and walk into the marsh to drown. I never bought into this; the author never convinced me that there was any good reason for Virginia to take this action.

Virginia also labors under a misunderstanding for much of the book that I found hard to believe, and the author sets her up so she has to live with a lot of guilt for most of her life. The bad character seems bad for too many reasons; he is hung up on Lorna because he wanted her and didn’t get her, but he is also a pedophile making unwanted overtures to Virginia as a child. I didn’t find him credible as a character. 

A few times the author pulled me out of the story by sounding too modern, like with this sentence “Clem. Is. Not. Here.” (p. 94 of the advance reader copy) There was also a bit of "swallowing a thesaurus" syndrome, like the use of the term “concertinaed” (“It’s the bird’s skull that has concertinaed time and made everything true again”, p. 50 of the ARC).

Overall, I found The Orphan of Salt Wind depressing and not quite effective. It may appeal to readers of Kate Morton. I read an advance reader copy from Netgalley.

Warning: an animal dies a violent death. 
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This book was a two day-er, it would’ve been a one day-er, if life hadn’t interceded. I just could not put it down. I felt that this was a well planned out, well written, study of two life-changing periods in Virginia’s life. The narrator describes life from the time 10 year old Virginia is adopted and at the same time, tells of her life as an 85-year-old woman. Nothing is mentioned of her life before coming to Salt Winds and not much is mentioned about her life between the ages of 12 and 85. Perhaps this could be another book or two in the making, and I would be the first in line to read it! All of the characters in the book are troubled in their own way, but the author helps you to know each of them well enough to form your own opinion of their character and motives. The marsh, itself, cannot be overlooked as an important character in this tale of a life that began in pre-World War II England and continues through current times. I rarely give five stars, but this book earned it, as I am finished reading the book and I just can’t get it out of my mind. That, to me, is the true test of a great book. Thank you to NetGalley for the advance copy to review.
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Orphan of Salt Winds
My thanks to #NetGalley for this ebook in exchange for an honest review. The Orphan of Salt Winds is a dark and tense mystery set in the marshes of pre-WWII England. Reminiscent of Kate Morton’s descriptive style, The Orphan of Salt Winds carries the reader through the life of Virginia, the orphan who comes to live with Clem and his wife Lorna. The book moves from childhood to present day and back again as the story slowly unfolds. Family secrets, war, and liberation are all explored with haunting results. This book is lovely and dark at the same time, if that makes any sense at all. It is a warm cup of tea with old friends . . . but with chipped cups and a bitter wind blowing. An amazing book all the way to the very end.
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Writing:  4 Characters: 3.5 Plot: 3

A dark and moody historical drama set against English marshes on the eve of WWII.  Virginia — a ten-year-old orphan — comes to live at Salt Winds as the adopted daughter of Clem and Lorna. Clem is the author of wildlife books and Lorna a somewhat reluctant housewife. Tension unfurls at a steady and insidious pace as Virginia works to makes sense of the strain between her adoptive parents and the perfidious and disagreeable neighbor Max Deering. When a German aviator crashes into the marsh, events unfold that lead to a terrible denouement. Alternating chapters take place in 2015 when Virginia, in her dotage and still haunted by past events, spies a young girl clinging to the marsh wall in the bitter winds.

The writing is very good and the tension palpable.  The descriptive prose brings the marshes and the time to life. The pacing is a bit slow for my taste with not enough story to warrant the length, and I would have liked a more upbeat ending.  One of the more interesting aspects of the book for me is the way Virginia’s (and therefore our) understanding of individual characters changes over time. For example, Clem is the sympathetic character at the start — he behaves like a father while Lorna doesn’t seem to know what to do with the role of mother that has been foisted upon her.  However, over time Virginia begins to see, and understand, how circumstance shaped Lorna and how she finally pushes through a learned submissiveness to become the person she needed to be.  It’s interesting to realize that we see everything through the eyes of a ten- to twelve-year-old, and later through the eyes of the (somewhat bitter) old woman she becomes.

Good for fans of Kate Morton.
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There seems to be a slew of novels recently, set in this time period. I have to say that this story creeps up on you. What may seem like a slow start, sets up the development of relationships between the characters. Tension builds, and while many readers may guess one twist, the ending is still a punch to the gut.
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