Today I’m delighted to be joining the blog tour for Roxanne Bouchard’s We Were The Salt of the Sea. My thanks to Publisher Orenda Books for providing an advance copy for review and to Anne Cater for inviting me to join the tour. I’ll share my thoughts on the book with you just as soon as I’ve told you what the book is all about.
About the Book
As Montrealer Catherine Day sets foot in a remote fishing village and starts asking around about her birth mother, the body of a woman dredges up in a fisherman’s nets. Not just any woman, though: Marie Garant, an elusive, nomadic sailor and unbridled beauty who once tied many a man’s heart in knots.
Detective Sergeant Joaquin Morales, newly drafted to the area from the suburbs of Montreal, barely has time to unpack his suitcase before he’s thrown into the deep end of the investigation.
On Quebec’s outlying Gaspé Peninsula, the truth can be slippery, especially down on the fishermen’s wharves. Interviews drift into idle chit-chat, evidence floats off with the tide and the truth lingers in murky waters. It’s enough to make DS Morales reach straight for a large whisky…
Both a dark and consuming crime thriller and a lyrical, poetic ode to the sea, We Were the Salt of the Sea is a stunning, page-turning novel, from one of the most exciting new names in crime fiction.
Let me start by saying that if you have come looking for gritty, hard and fast paced crime fiction then this is very unlikely to be the book for you. While this book does have a possible crime at its heart, to my eyes it is more of a mystery than hard-hitting crime. It is a hauntingly beautiful tale which slowly evolves, riding the waves like the many boats which grace the pages, drifting like a mist across the ocean by which this story is set.
Sounding a little, I don’t know … poetic maybe? Good, because perhaps that will give you a clue as to the tale you will discover when you turn the pages of this book. More mystical than physical, more haunting than menacing, it is quite extraordinary.
The story begins in earnest as Catherine Day leaves her life in Montreal behind and heads to the Gaspe peninsula to try to track down her birth mother. She cannot begin to anticipate what she will find on her search, of the impact her mother has had upon the community in which she lived. Nor could she have expected that her search may amount to nothing. Finding herself in the centre of an investigation into a body which has washed up on shore, Catherine struggles to find her roots, hampered by a clear reluctance of those who knew her mother to give her an honest answer of what happened and who her parents really were.
What I loved about this book was the way in which author Roxanne Bouchard has captured the heart of the community, from the little ticks of the townsfolk through to the spirit of the sea and the community which makes it their home and in many cases their life. Everything from the colloquialisms through to the individual turn of phrase which each resident has making them unique, you get a real feeling for the place, a real sense of being there. The writing is beautiful and I have to applaud translator David Warriner for the brilliant job he has done in recreating this for the reader.
As you read you will truly feel a part of the story, feel the spray of the sea as it bursts upon the shore, hear the sounds and sense the smells which encapsulate this small and closeted community which Catherine seeks to understand. You will also feel the emotions and the frustrations of the characters as they speak of all they once loved and all that they lost. As I said before, there is more of a sense of the mystical about this book and as they speak of Marie Garant in particular, she appears more mythical than real. More a fantasy than flesh and blood. And yet it is her that binds them all together, through the good and bad, and her death which brings forward Sergeant Moralès’ introduction to the town.
The author has created some fascinating characters in this book. I say fascinating as I neither loved nor loathed any of them and yet I could identify with them all in some small way. Moralès and his struggle with his wife’s perceived betrayal, Catherine and her desperate search for the truth. Even the fishermen, Cyrille and Vital, and bar owner Renaud, they are all unique, all with their own stories, their own secrets to hide. And boy do they hold secrets.
At the heart of this story are two mysteries – that of Catherine’s origins and the unexplained death of Marie Garant. Accident or something more sinister? The more we read the more we learn of her history with the town, of the seemingly endless list of people who may have wished to hurt her, and the many reasons why they are also devastated by her death. In a place reluctant to discuss their past, to revisit the darker times or confront their demons, getting to the truth will be Moralès hardest task and readers will be kept on the hook, so to speak, as we wait for that truth to be revealed.
Calming and yet haunting, this book had me caught from the start, swallowed up in one of Vital’s great nets, waiting with he other fishies to learn our collective fate. A truly unique read, I cannot wait to read more by this author in the future.
Available now in ebook and from 30th March in paperback, We Were The Salt of the Sea can be purchased at the following retailers:
About the Author
Ten years or so ago, Roxanne Bouchard decided it was time she found her sea legs. So she learned to sail, first on the St Lawrence River, before taking to the open waters off the Gaspé Peninsula. The local fishermen soon invited her aboard to reel in their lobster nets, and Roxanne saw for herself that the sunrise over Bonaventure never lies. We Were the Salt of the Sea is her fifth novel, and her first to be translated into English. She lives in Quebec.
You can follow Roxanne Bouchard on Twitter: @RBouchard72
Make sure to follow the tour: