Is there magic in the salt? The townspeople of the isolated small town of Prospect, on Cape Cod, are not sure, but neither are they willing to take the chance that there isn’t. For generations, the Gilly salt has held a place of preference in the diner, in the general store, and on the dinner tables of the people who live in Prospect, and the town has, if not flourished, at least it has survived.
Salt Creek Farm has belonged to the Gilly family forever, although the salt has been kinder to the women than it has to the men. The remaining family, sisters Joanna and Claire, have grown up and grown apart because of their different feelings for the salt – Jo, solitary and plain, belongs to the salt, and the salt belongs to her. Claire, independent and fiery and beautiful, wants nothing to do with it, and leaves her home to marry the richest and most handsome man in town, and the enemy of the Gilly family.
But Whit Turner, who was a childhood friend and sweetheart of Jo’s, does not become the salvation from the salt that Claire had envisioned. His ongoing obsession with Jo and the salt farm stems from his unshakeable belief that the magic of the salt can turn around the Turner family fortunes. And Claire’s attempts to turn the townspeople against the salt also do not work out as she plans.
The Gilly Salt Sisters is a delicious tale of betrayal and bitter family secrets. The characters are incredibly well drawn, and the use of salt throughout the book, as literal ingredient as well as metaphor, is gorgeously rendered. Life on the salt farm is hard, grindingly hard, and yet the women find a strange sort of fulfillment in it. And an acceptance of the fate that has come their way, and forgiveness for past wrongs, and finally, a lasting peace with the salt.