Review Sweet Salt Air: A Novel by Barbara Delinsky

On Quinnipeague, hearts open under the summer stars and secrets float in the Sweet Salt Air

Charlotte and Nicole were once the best of friends, spending summers together in Nicole’s coastal island house off of Maine. But many years, and many secrets, have kept the women apart. A successful travel writer, single Charlotte lives on the road, while Nicole, a food blogger, keeps house in Philadelphia with her surgeon-husband, Julian. When Nicole is commissioned to write a book about island food, she invites her old friend Charlotte back to Quinnipeague, for a final summer, to help. Outgoing and passionate, Charlotte has a gift for talking to people and making friends, and Nicole could use her expertise for interviews with locals. Missing a genuine connection, Charlotte agrees.

But what both women don’t know is that they are each holding something back that may change their lives forever. For Nicole, what comes to light could destroy her marriage, but it could also save her husband. For Charlotte, the truth could cost her Nicole’s friendship, but could also free her to love again. And her chance may lie with a reclusive local man, with a heart to soothe and troubles of his own.

Bestselling author and master storyteller Barbara Delinsky invites you come away to Quinnipeague…

Sweet Salt Air: A Novel by [Delinsky, Barbara]


Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Set on the fictional Maine island of Quinnipeague, Delinksy’s novel centers on two childhood friends, Charlotte and Nicole, who reunite to coauthor a cookbook about the local cuisine. (Warning: there are tantalizing food descriptions in this book. Don’t listen to it while hungry.) Narrator Marguerite Gavin’s voice is low and sensuous. This serves her well in narrating the story and in voicing Charlotte, the more worldly and assertive of the two friends. But it fails to adequately capture Nicole’s childlike nature. Early in the novel, Nicole’s voice is described as being close to that of a 10-year-old girl, but Gavin sometimes provides her with almost the same resonant, wry tone she gives Charlotte. Also, Gavin’s down east accent is on-again, off-again, with some local characters having no discernible accent, and others sounding almost like caricatures. However, Gavin’s rendition of Leo, the surly bad-boy neighbor up the road, is spot-on and quite entertaining. A St. Martin’s hardcover. (June)

From Booklist

Delinsky’s latest won’t disappoint her fans. Friendship, romance, and her trademark New England setting—this time, an island off the coast of Maine—are all present and accounted for. The focus is on Nicole and Charlotte, girlhood friends who’ve been estranged for the past 10 years. They reunite at Nicole’s family’s summer home to collaborate on a cookbook, both of them harboring secrets. When Nicole reveals her husband, Julian, is suffering from multiple sclerosis, Charlotte comes clean that she and Julian shared a drunken one-night stand before he married Nicole. The affair resulted in a baby Charlotte gave up for adoption, a child whose stem cells hold the key to Julian’s recovery. Complicating matters further, Charlotte has fallen for the island’s enigmatic bad boy, Leo, who, it turns out, has penned a best-selling novel with a plot that closely mirrors their “lovers from different worlds” relationship. Leo’s tale ends on a sour note, placing his future with Charlotte in doubt. Never fear; Delinsky knows when a happy ending is in order. HIGH-DEMAND BACKSTORY: Delinsky’s popularity increases with each book, so this novel is being rolled out with a gigantic print run and a similarly far-reaching promotional campaign. –Patty Wetli

Top customer reviews


I received an Advanced Copy of Barbara Delinsky’s latest novel Sweet Salt Air. This isn’t the first ARC I’ve ever gotten, but usually I have to decline reviewing them simply because I’m too busy to read/write/think straight.

Why did this one make it past my usual hurdles? Three reasons, I think.

First, a sweet soul at Wunderkind PR actually followed up to make sure I’d gotten my copy. I’m a sucker for a personal touch. Also, I can well remember my early days in marketing and of being the anxious newbie on the other end of that exchange.

Second, it arrived just before we left for a week at the beach… meaning I would actually have time to read an entire book instead of my regular routine of ‘Read three sentences. Stop to wipe someone’s bottom. Read same three sentences. Stop to make drinks and snacks. Lose place completely. Skim previous chapter to find those familiar three sentences — just as the cry of the latest casualty sounds in the playroom.’ You know…the usual.

Third, the novel had a really intriguing blurb. “Charlotte and Nicole were once the best of friends, spending summers together in Nicole’s coastal island house off of Maine. But many years, and many secrets have kept the women apart. For Nicole, what comes to light could destroy her marriage, but it could also save her husband. For Charlotte, the truth could cost her Nicole’s friendship, but could also free her to love again. And her chance may lie with a reclusive local man, with a heart to soothe and troubles of his own.”

Best friends separated by a terrible secret? Love it. A picturesque island off the coast of Maine? Yes, please. Throw in the troubled bad boy and this novel has “BEACH READ” written all over it. The sort of book that was made to have sand imbedded in its spine. I was three days into my week of sea and sand before Sweet Salt Air made it out of my suitcase, but it became my boon companion for the remainder of the week. Between Hermit Crab Races, Sand Castle Building Contests, and The Search For The Perfect Shell, I escaped to the small island of Quinnipeague and all its secrets. Secrets with a capital “S.”

I think what I liked most about Delinsky’s writing is her complete commitment to the characters. You really get to know the two leads, Nicole and Charlotte, including past events which factor into their current decision making. Delinsky impressed me in that she manages to convey those important details deftly, never leaving me feeling as if I’d just been buried under a giant “info dump” paragraph. There were plenty of times when one character or another reacted in a way I might not have, yet it was perfectly in keeping with that character’s personality and history.

Another thing that makes this book stand out is the attention to setting. Sensory immersion might be a better descriptor. I’ve never been to Maine in real life, but I now have a very strong mental picture of the fictional island of Quinnipeague — from the sight of its rocky beaches, to the taste of the local chowder, and especially the scent of valerian in Cecily Cole’s fabled gardens.

Technically, I think this book falls into the category of ‘Literary Fiction,’ but it reads more like contemporary romance to me. There’s mention of sex here and there, but none of the sort that is so lurid and detailed you worry a full-color diagram is lurking on the next page.

All in all, I’d peg this as an ideal summer read. It’s well-written with interesting characters and a well-delivered plot. Events that might seem far-fetched are fully believable in context — which is my litmus test for a good writer. Barbara Delinsky delivers what she promises on the back cover, a novel of “deeply buried secrets, heartfelt drama and a stunningly emotional love story.” I do love truth in advertising.

Writer’s Corner
What is the price of Sea Salt Air? These questions and more are answered in Barbara Delinsky’s release of Sweet Salt Air. I highly recommend this novel as a summer read. Who is ready to go to the beach?
Nicole is excited to work on her first book to be published with a major publisher. She is creating a cook book with her friend Charlotte. Their friendship goes all the way back to childhood. This sounds like a wonderful summer on the island of Quinnipeague Maine. There is a secret that might be come between both Nicole and Charlotte that involves Nicole’s husband Julian. The work on the cookbook is supposed to be a distraction to dealing with Julian’s medical condition multiple Sclerosis. Can she truly draw comfort from both the blog and her work on the book? How can Charlotte hold both the secret and a friendship with Nicole together through all of this?
My Thoughts:
I ended up really liking this novel! I have become a fan recently of Barbara Delinsky’s more recent work. This novel has two main focuses cooking and Multiple Sclerosis. These are two interesting topics which added to the plot therefore making it more interesting for the readers. Cooking coincides with the blog of the main character. I always find it interesting because an attribute of one of the characters. Nicole in this book blogs to escape her husband’s condition and the pressure it places on her. The condition of Multiple Sclerosis is explored through the husband and possible treatments.
I did find the pacing of the story to be slow at times but overall I enjoyed it. The characters are great!

This is the first book by this author that I’ve read and I’ll be going back for more.

There are plots, subplots, lots of characters and a ton of descriptive prose. I’ve lived in Maine and the visuals were perfect. I cared about each character, although one male character was a bit crispy for me.

As an aspiring novelist, I am fascinated with story structure and character development. My first book, similar to this, is lacking in one area and I am starting to see where.

Sometimes novels have a lot of characters and a ton going on and I start to confuse who is who. (I am fifty and maybe it’s my feeble brain.) Never happened in this book and I wanted satisfactory resolutions and got them. A few times the way I expected and a few not…

I highly recommend !

I have read other Barbara Delinsky novels and enjoyed this one as well. She is a good storyteller with compelling characters and details. I recommend her and this book.
am avid reader
Thoroughly enjoyed this book. Strong characters and plot. Couldn’t put it down after about half way through. Well written story

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