Author creates a satiating summer read with novel

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Barbara Delinsky’s “Sweet Salt Air” ($18.19, 416 pages, St. Martin’s Press) is the story of two friends who have drifted apart. Charlotte and Nicole used to spend every summer together in Nicole’s family home off the coast of Maine. Nicole and Charlotte have grown up and have successful careers as writers. Charlotte is a travel writer who is constantly leaving for a new destination and has no family to worry about. Nicole is a food blogger rooted in Philadelphia with her up-and-coming surgeon husband, Julian.

Nicole is commissioned to write a cookbook about island food and decides she can’t do it without the help of her best friend, Charlotte. Even though both are keeping secrets from the other, the two come together for a life-changing summer. Island resident Leo also offers Charlotte something she hasn’t quite expected. Nicole and Charlotte’s friendship and Nicole’s marriage will never be the same.

The story of Nicole and Charlotte and their separate secrets drew me in. What kept me turning the pages, though, was the rich details around the food, the herbs and the scenery. I’ve never liked clam chowder, but after reading this book, I feel like I could eat bowls of it. Delinsky’s description of the area, the ocean, and the people of the island of Quinnipeague will make you feel like you are right there with them.

Even though the story was a bit repetitive and “soap opera like,” it would make an excellent summer beach read. Aside from that, the scenes were filled with true and raw emotions that made the characters very real to me. The pressures on Nicole, Charlotte, Julian and Leo were different, but equally heartbreaking. Throughout the pages, you were rooting for them and crying with them.

There were some very emotional sections of the book that left me reflecting on my own choices in life. This is why I am a fan of Barbara Delinsky. Her writing hits at those deep emotions that the reader can relate to.

Multiple sclerosis makes an appearance in this novel and, unfortunately, my own family, as well as other that I know, has been touched by this disease. I found Delinsky’s research in this area and the direction she took this disease in the novel fascinating. I did wonder, though, why she didn’t incorporate the healing of medicinal herbs (that were such a main focus in the novel) into the healing of MS. But at 400-plus pages, I suppose something had to be left out. I certainly enjoyed reading about the healing power of flowers and herbs either through their scent or through their use in recipes.

I was salivating over the descriptions of the food and wanting the recipes. Maybe Delinsky needs to publish a “Sweet Salt Air” cookbook full of the food described in the book.

“Sweet Salt Air” was released June 18.

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