Description 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.
Many thanks to Orenda Books, the writer Roxanne Bouchard for the ARC of We Were Salt of The Sea in return for an honest review.
We Were Salt of the Sea is different to your traditional thriller, in that the main focus is on character rather than events. It moves along at a much slower pace than you expect and its heart is firmly based in the people of a remote fishing village in Quebec and their reactions to the death Marie Garant. Don’t let this put you off reading it though, because its uniqueness is what makes it so special and a haunting. The characters don’t so much leap of the page, they slowly and bit by bit, seep into your consciousness like they have always been there, old friends who memories soon become one with you the reader. I found my heart breaking for the loss of a great love, laughing at the dramatic gossip of the bistro owner, while sharing the irritation of poor DS Morales. Each character in the book is so beautifully drawn that you can visualise them in your mind’s eye and step with them into long suppressed memories.
The setting is perfect. For the mistrust of outsiders to work effectively, the story needed to be set in a small town, one whose bond with the sea is for some like a shackle them weighs them down and for others the liberation that frees them for the pain of the past. Here is a little village in which the characters are able to hide secrets, limit Catherine Days access to their memories and frustrate Morales efforts to search for answers around Garants’s mysterious death. This atmosphere is only possible because Bouchard has created a small community whose inhabitants are connected in ways they wouldn’t be in a bigger community and she imbues their connection with an emotional element that excludes both Day and Morales.
Special mention must also go to David Warriner whose translation is superb. He has produced a translation that celebrates and conveys Bouchard’s story for the reader with almost effortless grace.
We Were Salt of The Sea is another outstanding offering from the Orenda family of authors.
We Were Salt Of The Sea can be purchased from Amazon.
A little bit 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 Gaspe 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.
About the 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 an 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.