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We Were the Salt of the Sea

Published Date: 7th August 2017

Available in

$0

EBook
9781912374045
£5.99
30 January 2018
Paperback
9781912374038
£8.99
30 March 2018

Description

Truth lingers in murky waters…

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 Moralès, 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 Moralès 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.

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‘Lyrical and elegiac, full of quirks and twists – We Were the Salt of the Sea is an elegant crime novel that deserves to be a tremendous success’ William Ryan

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‘As rhythmic and beautiful as the waves, with a fierce undercurrent that pulls you hungrily into its depths’ Matt Wesolowski

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‘Within the first pages of this wonderfully atmospheric novel you are immersed into life in a tiny shing village on the Gaspé Peninsula of eastern Quebec, a place where everyone thinks they know everyone else’s business but no one will tell – especially not outsiders. Along comes an enigmatic tourist seeking her mother, just as a body is pulled up in shing nets and a sailing boat found adrift in a storm. I loved everything about this novel: the stunning descriptions of place, and of the mesmerising but brutal sea, which has taken many locals; the sharply observed dialogue and vocal tics of the characters; and the beautiful clarity of the writing. We are outsiders, observing from the point of view of the outsider characters, and as such perhaps we can never totally understand – yet Roxanne Bouchard still leads us to a gloriously satisfying conclusion. I genuinely couldn’t put this book down and I’m sure I will read it again before long’ Gill Paul

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‘Bouchard has managed that marvellous thing: prose that is at once lyrical and zzing with energy. It’s well matched with her story, embedded as it is in a place shaped by the sea, in which the dead are almost as present as the living. We see Marie Garant through the words of those who knew her, but she is forever out of reach. A tour de force of both writing and translation’ Su Bristow

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‘Roxanne Bouchard has the heart of a poet, the soul of the darkest crime writer, and the gift of perfect prose. is gorgeous novel is not only an ode to the sea, but an exploration of where we truly come from, and a gripping thriller. I became utterly lost in this book, and when I briefly came up for air, I only wanted to dive straight back in’ Louise Beech

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‘We Were the Salt of the Sea is a hypnotic read that manages to be in turns quirky, lyrical and insightful. The fascinating story is held together by a cast of characters you will grow to love and such is the sense of place that Roxanne Bouchard conjures up you’ll be looking out your passport long before you turn that final page, and booking your trip to this particular region of Canada. A must-read’ Michael J Malone

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It’s moving yet funny, it’s a poem of a crime novel, it’s a sea shanty of a love story, all rolled into one. We Were the Salt of Sea snares you in its nets and cries out to be read all in one go. La Presse

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Colourful, savoury, authentic characters with the kind of flavour that can only be inspired by real locals. So good it’ll make you want to pack your bags and drive straight to the seaside. Journal de Montréal

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Need to escape the madding crowds and turn your back on the concrete jungle? Getting the urge to sail away and feel the sea breeze on your face? Just dive right in to We Were the Salt of the Sea. Le Devoir

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There’s a fine line between the search for self and the origins of our very existence. As a police investigation gets nowhere fast, lies abound and skeletons emerge from the closet. Meanwhile, love blossoms and withers away in every nook and cranny. Le Devoir

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A novel that draws its light from the sea on a summer’s afternoon. Coup de pouce

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Their words are crude, since the characters know the horizon hides nothing more than the waves that roll in just as surely as they fleet away again. L’Action

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The end result? A crime novel that isn’t really a crime novel. Les Québécoises

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There’s no doubt the key protagonist in this novel of many secrets is the sea. She’s as fickle as she is steady, as unforgiving as she is subdued and as vindictive as she is seductive. Nuit Blanche

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A delightful mingling of poetry, mystery and humour amidst some greatly endearing characters. La Nouvelle

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These characters ooze so much authenticity you know you’ll find others just like them propping up the bar in any of the fishing villages along this coast… We Were the Salt of the Sea is a whale of a tale. Quebec Reads

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‘An isolated Canadian fishing community, a missing mother, and some lovely prose. Very impressed by this debut so far. WE WERE THE SALT OF THE SEA by Roxanne Bouchard’ Eva Dolan

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‘The translation from French has retained a dreamily poetic cast to the language, but it’s det-fic for all that, as DS Joaquin Morales, transplanted from balmy Mexican shores to a remote Quebecois fishing community, investigates a woman’s death at sea. This is the first book by Bouchard, renowned Canadian playwright and author, to be translated into English. We Were the Salt of the Sea was a Times Crime Club pick’ The Times Crime Club

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 ‘There is much to like. The difference in the more poetical perspective voiced by Catherine, and the chapters with a focus on the coldly analytical Morales is excellent and makes for an interesting change of pace. The background of the sea and sailing will appeal to those who enjoy life on the briny, and Morales’ determination to get a result in difficult circumstances shows him to be a character worth following’

Crime Review

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Roxanne was interviewed on BBC Radio 4’s Open Book. Roxanne’s interview begins at the 22:00 minute mark.

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Roxanne writes a piece for The Big Issue about finding friendship in an unlikely place, inspiring the writing of We Were the Salt of the Sea. The full article can be found at the bottom of this update. The Big Issue

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We Were the Salt of the Sea was nominated for the First Book Award at the Edinburgh International Book Festival 2018.

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‘Bouchard has created a small town desperate to preserve its identity and purpose under the pressure of a changing world, resisting any outside influence … There are secrets hidden beneath the surface in the village where everyone appears to know everyone else. As a drama as much as a mystery We Were the Salt of the Sea is a page-turner. A writer needs a distinct voice and Bouchard has that, she knows how to tell a story and captivate readers. This is Bouchard’s fifth novel but the first translated into English (excellently rendered)’ Nudge Books Magazine

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‘This book is the definition of atmospheric. Centered in a struggling Canadian fishing village, whose residents are insular and biting, and who aren’t very nice to the First Nations people among them, it captures the allure of the sea alongside the harsh realities of struggling industries. Quiet characterizations, brooding secrets: I didn’t actually care much about whodunit part, but I was still absolutely unable to put the book down’ Book Riot

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..
Follow Roxanne on Twitter @RBouchard72 and on her website: roxannebouchard.com.

Translator

David Warriner translates from French and nurtures a healthy passion for Franco, Nordic and British crime fiction. Growing up in deepest Yorkshire, he developed incurable Francophilia at an early age. Emerging from Oxford with a modern languages degree, he narrowly escaped the graduate rat race by hopping on a plane to Canada – and never looked back. More than a decade into a high-powered commercial translation career, he listened to his heart and turned his hand again to the delicate art of literary translation. David has lived in France and Quebec, and now calls beautiful British Columbia home.
Follow David on Twitter @givemeawave and on his website wtranslation.ca.

Online Reviews

‘As the novel continues, the mystery is slowly unravelled and light is shed about some of the relationships within the community giving Catherine a very clear idea of what she has to do next. There were so many characters that just bounced off the pages for me in this story, they all had their own story to tell and I adored how well rounded and authentic each one felt. This is a beautifully written tale that I think would appeal to lovers of literary fiction and I appreciated how the crime element changed a story about all the different characters of a tight-knit community to a mystery that by the end of the novel, just begs to be solved’ Bibliobeth

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‘The narrative goes back in time for a few chapters back to 1970, then forward to the present day. The story is unravelled using various people to narrate the circumstances. I couldn’t put this lovely book down. I’ve lived by the sea for most of my life, am endlessly fascinated by the it and this book was a real treasure to read. Enchanting, beguiling and I hope there are more of the same from this author’ Mrs Bloggs Books

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We Were the Salt of the Sea is an absolutely beautiful book, both in its narrative and its setting. It is clear from the outset that the author is familiar with its setting and, as such, transports her reader to Gaspé. The writing is absolutely stunning, its lyrical narrative draws you in from the start as the words just float from the page. Once again, kudos to the translator as the flow of the narrative is seamless. As local fisherman Vital says in the book (a lot), ‘Christ in a chalice’, We Were the Salt of the Sea is a sublime read that is beautiful from start to end. A great investigation in a beautiful setting with the sea as much of a central character as Catherine and Joaquin’

Have Books Will Read

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We Were the Salt of the Sea is no ordinary crime thriller. I would not even put the book into this category! It is its own genre. It tells a story you think you might have heard before but the words are different, the gentle music of the sea greets you in this village of Gaspé, where nothing happens … Overall, We Were the Salt of the Sea is a superb crime piece hidden in a story about the meaning of life and love. A page-turner which leaves salt on your fingers and sand between your toes’ Chocolate N Waffles

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‘This is a magical and ethereal, haunting novel which beautifully captures the essence and landscape of the Gaspé Peninsula. The setting is the story and the story is the setting. Written by an author who knows the area she writes about well, she paints an ethereal picture of unique shades with colours and the essence of the ocean … The mystery and murder story play out against a strong background with strong local characters at the fore. There is so much I want to say about this novel, rave about it and shout how much I recommend it, but that will spoil your discovery of it … It’s a novel to savour, to sink into, to allow the words to flow over you and immerse you fully’ The Book Trail

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‘This is a crime novel with a beautifully slow rhythm that captures the essence and atmosphere of this small fishing village with its distinctive and quite beautifully drawn characters that seduce Joaquin into a stupor of indecision … As I’ve mentioned, this is very fine writing, but it also has humour and mystery and not a little darkness. A story of love and longing, of murder and madness; it is full of phrases that live in the memory and speak to the human condition. What could be more beautiful than that? This goes straight into the must read category. We Were the Salt of the Sea is another stunner of a novel from Orenda Books, the home of fine writing’ Live and Deadly

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‘I found the beginning of the book very confusing and it took a couple of chapters for me to warm to the book I was determined not to give up. I sometimes struggle with translated books and find them “clunky” however, David had done an amazing job and it flowed beautifully. I would recommend this book not for the story line, but just for the beautiful and descriptive language used which just made me just want to read more and more of the book’ The Secret Life of a Book Blogger

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‘The descriptions that we are treated to of this fishing community are second to none. You can feel and smell the salt air and almost hear the waves as we become involved in the fisherman’s very different voices and stories – Christ in a Chalice! Not a saying I have actually heard before but will probably never forget now! A truly special book that I really hope gets the recognition that is deserves’

 Broad Bean’s books

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‘The writing style of this novel was very beautiful and incredibly poetic. The chapters had pretty decent length and didn’t leave me bored …  if you like sea, boats and a little bit of crime, filled with charming prose and unique characters, then this book is definitely for you. Summer season is just around the corner, so don’t forget a copy of this book, while enjoying that drink on the beach’ Book Inspector

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‘I think it’s beautifully written and lyrical in style, but I just found it a bit difficult to engage with … perhaps not the right book for me, but absolutely for you if you love that enclosed community feel, a book with a mystery at its heart and poetic writing, and a fairly gentle feel to your crime novels’

 Short Book and Scribes

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‘I really enjoyed We Were The Salt Of The Sea, an intriguing and lyrical crime mystery which unfolds in a wonderful setting. I was excited to see that this is the first in a series featuring DS Joaquin Morales, so I will be interested to read more of Roxanne Bouchard’s work! We Were The Salt Of The Sea is to be published in paperback on 30thMarch by Orenda Books’ The Owl On the Book Shelf

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‘The novel is clearly well researched, Bouchard herself lives in Quebec and learned to sail on the St Lawrence, but at times begs the question; when does authenticity just get in the way of the story? Bouchard’s attempt to capture the quebecois dialect is at times distracting, at least when translated into English, and wouldn’t have been missed if toned down a little. At its best We Were the Salt of the Sea is an alluring ode to the ocean and to the secrets that lay beneath the waves. As a crime novel it lacks pace but as a novel about self discovery it is more successful’ Words Shortlist

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‘Bouchard gives the reader much more than just a story about a search for answers and the closure for a woman without familial ties. Bouchard hands us the sea on a silver platter. You can taste the salt, feel the waves, and are almost convinced to set sail on the open seas yourself. In contrast to that scenario the author presents the dangers of the sea … As if that wasn’t enough incentive to read this book then perhaps the subtle crime story the author has woven into the delicate fabric of this combination of literary, crime and maritime fiction. Bouchard’s writing is as smooth as caramel sauce being poured into a bowl of melted chocolate. Fortunately Warriner’s translation reproduces this warm comfortable flow beautifully. Barring the excessive use of ‘Christ in a chalice and Hee’ this is a stunning lyrical read, and I expect to be seeing Bouchard’s name on award lists’ Cheryll MM Book Blog

 

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‘As a lover of the more naturalistic writing of authors such as Annie Proulx and Ron Rash, I loved the way that Bouchard showed such an incisive and lyrical edge to her writing in her depictions of the sea. Whether as a murder scene, as a source of making a living, as a route to a different life, or simply as the ever present force in these people’s existence, you feel its influence at every turn, and there are some truly beautiful descriptions permeating the book throughout. This sense of the poetic adds another level of enjoyment to the book, and through the translation of David Warriner, I was quite bewitched at times by the language and imagery the author employs. A very satisfying read, and recommended for those who like their crime fiction with a more literary edge’ Raven Crime Reads

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‘Each chapter begins with Cyrille’s descriptions of the sea, and they are so poetic that I could not help but be taken in by them, falling in love with the sea myself as I read. As I noticed the beautiful descriptions straight away, I was unsure how this would affect the plot. However, although the plot is not particularly gruesome, I was intrigued by it and I wanted to know more about Marie and what had happened to her. We Were The Salt Of The Sea has a colourful cast of characters and I enjoyed getting to know them and their different mannerisms. This helped me to understand more about life in the village and their relationships with each other, and I enjoyed getting more involved in their lives as I read’ Portable Magic

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‘Roxanne’s writing is beautiful and I have huge respect to David for capturing the beauty when translating into English. The writing is poetic and lyrical, I loved the characters and I didn’t want the book to end. I’m in awe of just how stunning this book is and it is one I will re-read again and again. It’s not a fast-paced book but for once I’m glad it’s not, I enjoyed the slow-burn, it allowed me to take in the surroundings and what was happening … We Were the Salt of the Sea is a beautiful and moving book which should be in everyone’s list of books to read in 2018. I will visit this book time and again as it’s that gorgeous and stunning, each read I’ll probably discover something new about the book’

Katie’s Book Cave

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‘Part crime fiction, part love story, although not a romance, more a reflection on loves lost and life passing by.  A slow paced read told in both first and third person narratives, mainly in the present with intermittent chapters from the time of Catherine’s birth … This is the first in the series of DS Joaquin Morales books, an enjoyable read leaving me with yearnings to abandon it all and head for the seas, despite the contrary evidence provided in this book of trouble and strife where ever you are!  I look forward to reading more about this Detective, meeting his so far absent wife and hopefully learning more about this unique fishing village and its lively occupants!’ I Loved Reading This

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‘This book oozes passion for the sea and anyone who grew up around the sea will feel instantly at home among the worshippers of Gaspe. Roxanne Bouchard writes lyrically of the pull of the ocean to certain souls who serve at the pleasure of the sea … Bouchard has used the juxtaposition of the knowledgeable seamen and the new arrivals to play with the narrative thread and keep us guessing as to the actual series of events. Along the way rules are not so much broken as ignored, and the cast of characters, the tone of conversations and the mystery of Marie Garant keep us guessing. Take this novel to the shore with you and read it where you can smell the saltwater, for the sea is there in every paragraph and this novelist evokes a place where sea and shore are partners and the rest of the world is a separate country’ Bookety Book

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We were the salt of the sea is such an unusual read. I loved Roxanne’s style of writing. It’s so poetic, almost melodic. Catherine Day is trying to find her birth mother, she only knows her name. She travels to a small isolated fishing village. The village in itself has a very eerie feel about it. The locals are very tight knit and not very forthcoming with any information. Catherine is a deep character; her personality really unfolds the further into the story you go. A body is found in a fishing net and this leads to the entrance of Detective Sergeant Joaquin Morales, another interesting character. I really enjoyed We were the salt of the sea, another little Orenda gem!’ Wrong Side of Forty

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‘There is wonderful descriptive writing about the sea and the translator, David Warriner, has done a superb job of retaining the lyrical quality of Roxanne Bouchard’s writing … I really enjoyed We Were the Salt of the Sea, not just for the intriguing mystery at the heart of the book but for the wonderful, imaginative writing.  I would love to see other books by Roxanne Bouchard translated into English’ What Cathy Read Next

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‘There are some wonderful descriptions and imagery throughout the story, particularly when the author talks about the sea … It is a beautifully written and very evocative tale, giving the reader a real sense of place. You can almost hear the ripples of the waves, see the cobalt blue of the seat and smell the salt in the air. To me, We Were the Salt of the Sea is not so much a psychological thriller but rather more of a literary crime novel. It is a unique and wonderfully written tale, and one which is very much worth reading’  The Curious Ginger Cat

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‘This is such an unusual story with distinctive characters you wouldn’t find the like of anywhere else. Each has their own voice, tone and a rhythm that makes them as unique as any finger print ever could. You really don’t need to be told who is speaking, you just know. The whole story was like the sea. It was unpredictable, stormy and unforgiving but the beauty of it all was quite superb!’ Books From Dusk Till Dawn

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We Were the Salt of the Sea is an extremely atmospheric read, slow-paced and immersive; you can visualise being there, watching the events first-hand and listening in on the conversations – now that’s a powerfully written novel! Lastly, and importantly, thank you to David Warriner for providing the translation that allowed me to read this novel – it truly felt like nothing was lost in translation’

 Keeper of Pages

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‘There is such a richly immersive sense of place about Roxanne Bouchard’s book; I could almost smell the briny air and taste the salt tang on my lips. The sea exerts a physical and emotional hold over the inhabitants of the village, some are carried away by its waves, some are destined to spend their lives trawling its depths and others will be swallowed up by its power but its rhythm is as much a part of them as the beating of their hearts. We Were the Salt of the Sea isn’t the book for those looking for a gritty, action-packed thriller but its more gentle pacing allows for an engrossing look at the dark complexities of a close knit community. This is a highly original, thoughtful and engaging story about love and loss that will appeal to anybody seeking more literary crime fiction’ Hair Past a Freckle

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‘Let’s face it, readers. Orenda Books knows how to choose them.  I’m always a 50/50 when it comes to translated works but lately they have just been hitting their mark … This is better than a police procedural with the unique way in which this mystery gets resolved. I think the characters and the background overshadowed the mystery as a whole and I am not sorry about that in the slightest.  Get yourself out to the sea… and contrary to the locals, please learn how to swim’ Where the Reader Grows

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‘The writing style is really unique and almost poetic and the words flowed from the pages. The setting is atmospheric and beautifully described. It draws you in and immerses you in its pages until you can smell the salty sea air drifting from within. The descriptions of the sea are original and quite stunning and it brings the whole novel to life … I really enjoyed how all of the different aspects come together, it’s still a compelling crime thriller, but it’s really beautifully written and expertly crafted.
Overall, I’m giving We Were the Salt of the Sea 4.5 out of 5. It’s poetic yet gripping and the writing style was completely unique. I’ll look forward to reading more from Roxanne Bouchard’ Misti Moo Book Reviews

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‘Well, what can I say? Orenda have done it again! They are the literary Santa Claus and we are all the good children! We have been given the gift of superb writing and story telling and I for one am rather pleased with my gift! This book has been categorised as crime fiction, but as many are already pointing out – this is also an ode to the ocean. A calming entity that many people can relate to and you soon become lost in everything Roxanne has to offer which I experienced similar feelings when reading SEALSKIN. It is too easy to sit and read this book in one sitting (as I did!) and feel like you have experienced nearly every emotion you have. Hands down, WE WERE THE SALT OF THE SEA is one of the most unique crime fiction stories I have had the pleasure of reading. Kudos to the translator; David Warriner who was able to bring Roxanne’s words into English without losing the magic of her original telling’ The P Turners book blog

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‘Character creation in any novel is really important and Roxanne seems to have found a way of weaving a story of the sea and clever interplay between them. This may be a crime and a mystery novel but here is a book that actually really got to me, at times I was so consumed by the writing and also the story really touched me. The story flows like a calm sea and the translation by David Warriner is just outstanding. We Were the Salt of the Sea is another Orenda Books success story. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED’ The Last Word Book Review

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‘Bouchard’s twin skills of spot-on characterisation and razor-sharp description combine to make this a novel that engulfs you, but as the narrative thread is eked out, inch by inch, there’s ample time to sit back and marvel at the poetry of the prose. This book has a lyrical loveliness that put me in mind of Louise Beech’s Maria in the Moon, the crime aspect almost secondary to the myriad dramas revealed by the captivating characters who live and breathe within its covers. More DS Morales books are promised – which is good news, as this deep-thinking, complex character will make a fine addition to the crime fiction family. It should provide a great opportunity for us to get to know Gaspe, and its inhabitants, better too’ We Were the Salt of the Sea was recommended on Crime Fiction Lover.

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We Were the Salt of the Sea is, on one level, a classic detective story; on another, it is a very literary exploration and representation of life in a small coastal village on the Canadian eastern seaboard … The tone and pace of the book remind me of early Alain-Fournier – Bouchard has a similar dexterity and lightness of touch with language, the ability to make the seemingly otherwise unremarkable just, well, sing … Now, I am particularly partial to crime fiction in translation anyway, since oh-so- long ago when I fell in love with Harvill’s beautifully packaged, bone-achingly good noir’ The Literary Shed

Reviews