Cover image for The orphan of Salt Winds
Title:
The orphan of Salt Winds
ISBN:
9781947793224
Personal Author:
Edition:
First U.S. edition.
Publication Information:
Portland, Oregon : Tin House Books, 2019.

©2019
Physical Description:
293 pages ; 22 cm
Summary:
"England, 1939. Ten-year-old Virginia Wrathmell arrives at Salt Winds, a secluded house on the edge of a marsh, to meet her adoptive parents: practical, dependable Clem and glamorous, mercurial Lorna. The marsh, with its deceptive tides, is a beautiful but threatening place. Virginia's new parents' marriage is full of secrets and tensions she doesn't quite understand, and their wealthy neighbor, Max Deering, drops by too often, taking an unwholesome interest in the family's affairs. Only Clem offers a true sense of home. War feels far away among the birds and shifting sands, until the day a German fighter plane crashes into the marsh, and Clem ventures out to rescue the airman. What happens next sets into motion a crime so devastating it will haunt Virginia for the rest of her life. Seventy-five years later, she finds herself drawn back to the marsh, and to a teenage girl who appears there, nearly frozen and burdened by her own secrets. In her, Virginia might have a chance at retribution and a way to right a grave mistake she made as a child. Elizabeth Brooks's gripping debut mirrors its marshy landscape, full of twists and turns and moored in a tangle of family secrets. A gothic, psychological mystery and atmospheric coming-of-age story, The Orphan of Salt Winds is the portrait of a woman haunted by the place she calls home"-- Provided by publisher.
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Summary

Summary

England, 1939. Ten-year-old Virginia Wrathmell arrives at Salt Winds, a secluded house on the edge of a marsh, to meet her adoptive parents--practical, dependable Clem and glamorous, mercurial Lorna. The marsh, with its deceptive tides, is a beautiful but threatening place. Virginia's new parents' marriage is full of secrets and tensions she doesn't quite understand, and their wealthy neighbor, Max Deering, drops by too often, taking an unwholesome interest in the family's affairs. Only Clem offers a true sense of home. War feels far away among the birds and shifting sands--until the day a German fighter plane crashes into the marsh, and Clem ventures out to rescue the airman. What happens next sets into motion a crime so devastating it will haunt Virginia for the rest of her life. Seventy-five years later, she finds herself drawn back to the marsh, and to a teenage girl who appears there, nearly frozen and burdened by her own secrets. In her, Virginia might have a chance at retribution and a way to right a grave mistake she made as a child. Elizabeth Brooks's gripping debut mirrors its marshy landscape--full of twists and turns and moored in a tangle of family secrets. A gothic, psychological mystery and atmospheric coming-of-age story, The Orphan of Salt Winds is the portrait of a woman haunted by the place she calls home.


Author Notes

Elizabeth Brooks grew up in Chester, England. She graduated from Cambridge University with a first-class degree in Classics, and lives on the Isle of Man with her husband and two children.


Reviews 2

Publisher's Weekly Review

In her hauntingly gothic debut, Brooks beautifully mixes bittersweet youthfulness with the stinging pain of past memories. Told from the perspective of the 10-year-old orphan Virginia on the eve of WWII in the English countryside, the story begins when Virginia is adopted by a young couple and brought to Salt Winds, a large estate at the edge of a marsh. Virginia finds herself in the middle of tensions with her adoptive parents' marriage, worried that they'll want to send her back to the orphanage. Also, unbeknownst to her new father, Clem, a man has been dropping by to see his wife. Virginia feels most at home with Clem, who teaches her about marshland birds. The marsh also serves as a metaphor for Virginia's precarious situation-the tides turn quickly, shifting the landscape and opening quicksand pits. When a man parachutes from the sky into the marsh, Clem tries to rescue him even though he could be a German soldier. In alternating chapters, the far-reaching aftershocks of Clem's decision are slowly unveiled as Virginia, now an old woman wandering the halls of Salt Winds, contemplates her past. This quietly unsettling tale holds its secrets close, making for a powerful story of loss and longing. (Jan.) c Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.


Booklist Review

According to 86-year-old Virginia's plan, New Year's Eve 2015 is not only her last day in Salt Winds, the bleak old house on Tollbury Marsh, but also her last day on Earth. She has lived at Salt Winds since she was a 10-year-old orphan, brought there by her adoptive parents, Lorna and Clem. Though Lorna is distant, Clem is attentive and kind. But an air of menace hangs over the house. Friend-of-the-family Max Deering, sleek and overly familiar, is always hanging about. And Clem's repeated warnings about the marsh's dangers are reinforced when a German fighter plane crashes, setting in motion a series of calamities. In her debut, Brooks convincingly renders a child trying to make sense of the confusing and mysterious world of adults; Virginia is observant, but she doesn't always get things right, and her efforts to control events can have unintended consequences. Back in 2015, her "farewell tour" of the house is interrupted by the appearance of Sophie, a runaway teenager who evokes protectiveness but also stirs up old hatreds. A careful buildup of suspense will keep readers guessing and glued to the pages.--Mary Ellen Quinn Copyright 2018 Booklist