Salt Garden is the type of contemporary fiction that I like best. It weaves together the story of several protagonists, in this case three women across age and time. First is Claire O'Rourke, a young newspaper woman who finds herself back in her hometown working at a small town weekly. Never did she expect that this setting will challenge her investigative and writing skills at the same time it challenges her heart to see those around her in new lights.
Then there is the recluse Sophia Fleming whose painful past keeps her hidden at her Orion Point seaside cottage. No one except her childhood friend Ben understands why she has put aside a successful literary career and hidden alone for decades. Last there is Josephine Vanderook who in the early 1900s survived a shipwreck off Orion Point. Her story and the true story of the shipwreck can only be pieced together through her long lost diary and a mysterious journal which washes up near Sophia's shore.
I liked how the story unwound layer by layer with connections building among the three women.
There are side stories such as Claire's brother's trouble with the law that add depth and interest. Too often books which center around a place like this seaside town have an other world flavor - a knowledge that the town is fictional that permeates the whole book. Not so in Salt Garden. The people, not the place predominated, but at the same time, place is important. Other reviewers on
Goodreads have commented that they felt the story moved too slowly or that the characters were too flat. While this story didn't compel me to keep reading all night until I finished, it did keep my interest. I especially liked the importance of Sophia in the story. Not too often does a woman of 70+ have a starring role in a contemporary novel. Her story proves that love knows no age.
This book was first published in 2004 when I was only following a few Christian authors. Despite being almost 10 years old, the story stands up well delivering romance, mystery and renewed faith in the goodness of others.