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Salt: A Novel Paperback – April 1, 2003


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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

In a beautifully conceived and gracefully executed first novel about one woman's life in the American South at the turn of the 20th century, poet Zuber (Oriflamb) imagines a community that is still following patterns and behaviors established 100 years before. Central to her portrait are the relationships between Anna Maud Stockton Bayley, her adulterous, twice-married husband, John, and their offspring. Forced into marriage after John seduces her, Anna makes the best of it, sewing, gardening and keeping house in the small town of Faith, N.C. Still, she dreams of music, singing, travel and love. But single-minded John, who is avid to increase his land, children and stock, is less interested in his young wife's desires than his own personal gain. Leading up to the tempestuous marriage, the plot moves at a slow waltz, with Zuber lovingly establishing even minor characters. But the pace picks up once Zuber expresses the frustration that clouds Anna's life: her longing for knowledge and romance and her conviction that her children should receive an education. Researched with an eye to domestic detail, the narrative offers a realistic portrait of a woman's daily tasks in the late 19th and early 20th century, when there were "bedticks to empty, scrub and restuff with new straw twice a year" and little else to which a married woman could aspire. Tragically, the one instance of romance in Anna's life is her undoing. The lyric cadences of Zuber's prose and her tender evocation of the landscape and atmosphere of her native region have much to do with the emotional richness of her touching account of one woman's inner awakening.
Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Library Journal

In the recent tradition of Robert Morgan's Gap Creek, though lacking the grinding poverty of that novel, Salt follows the life of a young woman at the turn of the 20th century. Anna Maud Stockton Bayley leaves her remote North Carolina home to be a serving girl for the wealthy Alba family in Asheville and glimpses the troubles and richness of their very different lives. After returning home, she settles in as the third wife of a widower with young children and begins a family of her own. In her first novel, poet Zuber (Winter's Exile) tells Anna's story with remarkable fullness, liberally sprinkling the text with quotations about salt (e.g., "Spilt salt is never all gathered") to add spice. Anna's struggles with her family and her philandering husband should find an appreciative audience. Recommended for public libraries. Ann H. Fisher, Radford P.L., VA
Copyright 2002 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 360 pages
  • Publisher: Picador; Reprint edition (April 1, 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0312311370
  • ISBN-13: 978-0312311377
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 0.8 x 8.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 15.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (14 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,347,638 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

4.4 out of 5 stars
5 star
64%
4 star
7%
3 star
29%
2 star
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See all 14 customer reviews
This book was not a grabber.
Monique Gojko
The characters are wonderfully formed and the dialog is true to the time and the place.
Shelley
SALT is the story of a woman who I would have dearly loved to have known.
J. Badger

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

14 of 15 people found the following review helpful By Ruth P. Price on August 24, 2003
Format: Hardcover
This novel is one of those rare reading experiences that will linger with its truths and insights for years to come. One of the things I loved most was the way it didn't hit you in the face with overwrought drama, but instead allowed you to sink into it slowly. Anna, the main character, was immediately someone I wanted to know more about and Isabel Zuber gave me time to know her well and left me wishing for her as a companion for life. Anna's ability to keep her real self intact despite the repression of her marriage inspired me - sometimes I forgot about the harshness of her life and was surprised when the story reminded me about what little she had other than her own integrity. For me the book was about a difficult life lived with dignity and I was very inspired by its message.
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13 of 14 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on June 18, 2002
Format: Hardcover
This book is absolutely amazing. It's the kind of book that I want to tell everyone to read. The writing is pure poetry and the plot is so incredible...by the last 3/4 of the book, I was completely overtaken to see what happened. You may find it a bit hard to get into, but once you're past the first 10 pages you will not be able to put it down. This is a debut novel but it reads like one written by a seasoned pro...it's so carefully crafted and well-done that I could hardly believe it. All I can say is PLEASE READ THIS BOOK. You won't regret it. Halfway through I knew it was going to be one of the best books I had ever read and when I read the last page, I was certain of this.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By karintha valentine on July 20, 2002
Format: Hardcover
Isabel Zuber's first novel makes most contemporary novels feel a little light-weight by comparison, like quilts without much batting in them. Even Robert Morgan's much ballyhooed GAP CREEK, an Oprah selection, feels threadbare by comparison. Zuber's novel is, on the other hand, a well stitched patchwork that has a satisfying heft to it. It pieces together the story of Anna Stockton Bayley's life, from childhood to deathbed and does so with authenticity and generosity. If at times some of the characters seem hard to keep up with, the central story of Anna and her husband John always keeps its focus and intensity. Whereas GAP CREEK's Julie, for example, is limited to her one year of marriage and never-ending hardship in Morgan's novel, Zuber's heroine must live through all the seasons of a woman's life, giving her a multi-dimensional poignancy that Morgan's character never achieves. These two Appalachian women, from two contemporary Appalachian fiction-writers and poets (Zuber is also a published poet) inhabit different worlds, Zuber's Anna a world of both suffering and lyrical beauty, Morgan's Julie a world of near unbroken drudgery and sorrow. Zuber's book deserves the accolades heaped upon GAP CREEK. It is the richer novel, the one that gives real scope and vision to a region and its people. I hope it receives the acclaim it deserves.
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10 of 11 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on February 23, 2004
Format: Paperback
I read this novel over a year ago and I can't stop thinking about it and how beautiful it is. I compare everything I read to it and so far, all other fiction has come up short. I didn't write a review at the time I read it, but I feel that it deserves one if I'm still thinking about how much it touched me over a year later. It is beautifully written, the characters are well developed, and the story is interesting and touching and real. I highly recommend it.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By L. Fort on June 30, 2004
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Although Salt starts out slow, it picks up pace and I could not put it down. One of the main characters, John, is so self-centered it made me crazy. It was alright for him to do as he pleased, but Anna put up with so much. The children needed her. I don't want to spoil the plot for anyone who has not read it, but you will love it. Just too bad someone didn't do John in earlier in the book.....
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By J. Badger on January 26, 2006
Format: Paperback
This is a beautiful book. I've started so many bestsellers lately and stopped halfway through them, disappointed in both the book and myself for my lack of persistance. I was starting to be afraid that I had lost the knack of reading. SALT restored my faith in my own ability to become immersed in a book and in the fact that there are still books which can totally entrance, amaze, delight, and humble the reader. SALT is the story of a woman who I would have dearly loved to have known. She had a life that was far from satisfying and yet she found beauty almost everywhere she looked and was a blessing to everyone around her. Thank you, Isabel Zuber, for this beautiful blessing of a book!
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10 of 12 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on August 8, 2002
Format: Hardcover
Zuber weaves her tale with the grace and lyricism of a poet. Her intricate narrative flows smoothly. Her words capture the aura of the Appalachian landscape, the moodiness of its weather, and the supernatural beauty of its days and nights. Her characters, even the peripheral ones, are clearly defined, multi-faceted, and memorable.
Salt's keen examination of the social norms that keep both men and women bound in their prescribed roles and its honest view of happiness and grief, past and present, hope and despair, fuse the story of one woman's awakening into a larger view of humanity. The novel ponders the consequences of actions and interactions in a way that speaks to us especially in these times of uncertainty. The deeply realized and mature sentiments of Zuber's work far surpass the flat mediocrity so prevalent in today's bookstores.
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