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The Salt God's Daughter Hardcover – September 4, 2012


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 352 pages
  • Publisher: Soft Skull Press (September 4, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1619020025
  • ISBN-13: 978-1619020023
  • Product Dimensions: 1.2 x 6.5 x 9.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (46 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #506,417 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Review

"It's luxuriant writing, thoughtful, pleasingly moody, rustled through with wind. Yet, no matter how surreal the story becomes, it offers real places, every day truth." --Beth Kephart, author of Small Damages

"When a blue moon rises, mistakes can be undone, lost children can find their homes, and sea lions can shed their skins. The selkie myth lies at the heart of Ruby's (The Language of Trees, 2010) second novel.... This is a bewitching tale of lives entangled in lushly layered fables of the moon and sea."--Kirkus Reviews

"Certainly other readers have had this experience: you discover a book that is thrilling in its truth about the world, a book that captures your imagination so completely that you actually feel scared by the thought you might have never held this book in your hands... The Salt God's Daughter is that kind of book."-S. Berlain, The Rumpus

Praise for The Salt God's Daughter

“…a lyrical, luxuriantly mystical meditation on being female. The Salt God's Daughter is astonishing and unusual because selkies--mythical shape-shifting creatures who are human beings on land and seals in the water--are part of the story. In the otherworldly universe Ruby creates, the existence of selkies do not detract from the authenticity of the characters. Quite the opposite: the myth sharpens the characters' humanity… Ruby's novel comes as close as possible to achieving a deep understanding of the possibilities of being female.” —Leora Tanebaum, The Huffington Post

"Ruby’s second novel (after The Language of Trees) imbues the complex relationships between mothers and daughters with legends and feminist mysticism . . . Ruby’s writing is elegant and insightful...” —Publishers Weekly

"The book beautifully evokes scenes of two girls adrift in the late 70s and early 80s bohemian beach culture...the result is a breathtaking, fiercely feminine take on American magical realism. Ruby spins sweeping mythologies without straying far from the story of a young woman just trying to survive." —Interview Magazine

"Lushly woven with elements of folklore, Ruby’s novel is a captivating inquiry into the generational, wayward bonds of mothers and daughters."—Booklist

“This is a bewitching tale of lives entangled in lushly layered fables of the moon and sea.” —Kirkus Reviews

“The characters and the setting hunger for each other …the ocean is everywhere, its saltiness fills the pages, lingers on the characters… Lovely in its complexity, Ruby has written in many layers. Yes, her book is mystical and fanciful, but at the same time it is intensely raw, and often unsettling.” —Bookslut

“Certainly other readers have had this experience: you discover a book that is thrilling in its truth about the world, a book that captures your imagination so completely that you actually feel scared by the thought you might have never held this book in your hands; that you might have missed it completely. Ilie Ruby’s The Salt God’s Daughter is that kind of book.” —Stacy Bierlein, The Rumpus

“Three generations of indelibly original women wrestle with the confines of their lives against a shimmering backdrop of magic, folklore, and deep-buried secrets. About the bonds of sisters, mothers, and daughters, and the refusal to accept limits, this is a story as heartbreaking, gritty, magical, and real as a waking dream, with a sense of place so immediate, you can feel the ocean’s salt spray. To say I loved this book is an understatement.” —Caroline Leavitt, New York Times bestselling author of Pictures of You

“Open The Salt God's Daughter and it is as if you are walking through a door, where things are at once utterly recognizable and utterly mysterious, like life, and like an ancient fairy tale, or a myth from a lost continent, another time and place. Ilie Ruby offers up a story that is both exquisitely fantastical at the same time that it maintains the feel of unblinking realism. This one's a story in which to lose one's self in the best possible way.” —Joyce Maynard

“Magical and gripping, The Salt God's Daughter captivated me from the very first sentence and has stayed with me long after I finished reading. A lyrical exploration of the timeless search for belonging and the complicated bonds between mothers, daughters and sisters, I devoured the novel in one sitting and then immediately ordered copies for my own mother and sister." —Jillian Cantor, author of The Transformation of Things

“Propulsive, mythic, and rhythmically mastered....a singular, knock-out work of fiction about love and the evolution of identity." —James Ragan

"What a rare pleasure this novel is, a kind of embarrassment of riches, Ilie Ruby has given us a work glowing with the emotive illuminations of two sisters, caught in exile, in homelessness, in a parentless subculture which they both survive by the pure transcendent powers of their personal fantasy-life and myth. The bond of sisterhood prevails. I cannot recommend this passionate look at family and society and outcast-ness enough. To be a part of their journey is to look at our own travels through deprivation, rejection, poverty and find their quiet ultimate triumph, to feel their fulfillment, as if it were our own. I look forward to what this talented writer offers us next!" —Leora Skolkin-Smith author of Hysteria

"Ruby's book is an eloquent unfolding of language brilliantly crafted. The Salt God's Daughter is beautiful writing of life, love, relationships between mother and daughter, families of one's own making, and the push/pull of the moon on the course of relationships. Lovely!"-Katherine Pinard, McIntyre's Books

From the Author

Folklore for this book is rooted in the myth of the selkies, an enduring tale from childhood that I learned from a folksong called "The Selkie of Sule Skerry." The novel also borrows from Jewish mysticism about the Shekhina.

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Customer Reviews

I can't say I didn't like it entirely, but the extended imagery and non-stop magical occurrences were too much.
true blue
The Salt God's Daughter is an atmospheric novel that explores the complex relationship and love between mothers and daughters while portraying the female experience.
she treads softly
Ilie's gift for poetic language is perfectly balanced with her ability to create complex, deeply human characters who touch the heart.
Peggy A. Kornegger

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

13 of 13 people found the following review helpful By Noelle the Dreamer on September 4, 2012
Format: Hardcover
I might never have reached for this novel on a display and I would have lost something!
Ilie Ruby's second novel - The Salt's God Daughter - (the first one was called 'The Languages of Trees) is stunning in its creativity!
Too often we pick up a book whose scenario is so predictable we anticipate its development after the first or second chapter. In this instance be prepared for the unexpected for this author's perception of society reveals our most inner thoughts.

Inspired partly by the Selkie lore the story transcends over three generations of women, each different yet each of them an extension of the other.
Beautifully written, poetically articulate and refreshing in its uniqueness you might wonder why you never heard of this author before.

Here is an excerpt to help you see what I mean:

'I recalled how my eyes had followed the swan like neck of a ballerina, the pink blossoms on her flushed cheeks, the rest of her captured in strumming white-gold strokes. below, a rectangle of light on the hardwood floor, and the barre, touched with gold, too. The ballerina's lip would part slightly, her fingers caught in that space. I'd examined a certain dark lavender hue, deciding that a flat brush had been used. I defined form in terms of instruments used to create it. As I paged through books, I hunted for patterns and repetitions, just as I did with my mother's almanacs. A blue lavender hue might trail above a fire near a hearth, and also make up the iron tub where a different woman hitched her foot and unrolled her stockings before she stepped into her bath.'

Ilie Ruby's novel is certain to capture your imagination with her descriptions of Diana, Ruthie and Naida, the past, the present and the future.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Ana Lewis on August 9, 2012
Format: Hardcover
Ilie Ruby has spun a fabulous work with her book, The Salt God's Daughter. Thank you, Ilie for letting us get swept away by the oceans of your mind. After reading this book, I sat with the quiet acceptance of the differences in people in our lives. Not judging. Just grateful to Ilie for showing the inner beauty of all. The homeless, the impoverished, the physically different, the ignored, the castaway. What a mistake we make overlooking or judging. What a gift The Salt God's Daughter is to open our eyes and hearts to help us to see and love more deeply. In the Salt God's Daughter, Ilie gives unheard women a voice. Thank you.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By J. J. McInerney on September 6, 2012
Format: Hardcover
Once in a Blue Moon, a hauntingly lyrical novel touches the essence of your innermost soul. For me, it is this novel which I read during the full Red Moon of August. I found it to be a thoroughly captivating, powerfully moving work of strikingly beautiful literary merit.

Ruthie and her older sister, Dolly, are the daughters of Diana, a woman of the mystical 1960s who consults full moon cycles in The Old Farmer's Almanac as she roams California coastal highways with her physically homeless children in Big Ugly. Diana struggles to find a lost love and assemble a "normal" life for her family as they journey on complex roads of life, finally landing at Dr. Brownstein's beach hotel. When young Diana dies, the two sisters of Jewish heritage fiercely cling protectively to one another, transitioning into womanhood, first at the Bethesda Home for Girls and then back at Dr. B's Wild Acres, where Ruthie becomes its caretaker and caregiver of aging residents. She falls in love with Graham, who, like her father, only appears during full moons and, after the birth of their daughter, Naida, mysteriously disappears. Naida has a webbed foot, an uncannily attraction to the ocean, an ability to commune with three "sister" sea lions", and a desperate desire to find out where--and what--her father really is.

Ruby deftly entwines Jewish-American tradition and culture with Celtic mythology, transcending what could have been a humdrum, feminist romance into a complex, mystically moving, spiritually uplifting novel. The Scotch/Irish legend of sea lions shedding skins each full moon to become human is integral to the plot set on California's coast. Are Ruthie's father and Graham such creatures?
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By true blue on January 9, 2013
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I can't remember when it took me so long to read one book. I can't say I didn't like it entirely, but the extended imagery and non-stop magical occurrences were too much. Would have been more effective in smaller doses to highlight/supplement more development of the main characters. Too much potential left untapped there. I finished this book feeling annoyed that I had dragged my way through it only to find I really didn't know the characters at all in the end. That being said, there were some notable high points of insight into relationships between mothers and daughters that gave me glimmers of hope. Unfortunately not enough to make up for the surrounding caverns of whimsy
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Caitlin Martin VINE VOICE on September 3, 2012
Format: Hardcover
I've been very fortunate over the past several weeks to read a number of wonderful books that take folk tales, fairy tales, mythology as their heart. The Salt God's Daughter is one of those books. Ruby's story, based on the Celtic tradition of the selkie - uncanny creatures who appear as seals on the sea, but can shed their skins and walk when on land. Traditional tales of the selkie often lead to tragedy as a selkie and human fall in love (or not) and make a life together. It's the "making a life together" element that's tricky since often this part happens because the human partner steals and hides the selkie's skin so s/he cannot go back to the sea. I know you're thinking of The Little Mermaid (Two-Disc Platinum Edition) (the Disney version). Stop. This folklore is a lot more complex and dark than anything anyone from Disney ever conjured.

The Salt God's Daughter is also about mother/daughter relationships. As a daughter I know how conflicted and complex these relationships are. Ruby weaves a tale of mothers and daughters and their bonds. Rich in imagery of the sea and of the moon, The Salt God's Daughter is a great follow-up to Ruby's first novel, The Language of Trees: A Novel. Ruby has a talent for threading disparate parts of story into a coherent whole and I am glad to say that her sophomore effort is just as wise and wonderful as her first. Highly recommended.
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