Sweet Salt Air

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Published by: St. Martin’s Griffin
Release Date: June 10, 2014
Pages: 432
ISBN13: 978-1250007056




Charlotte and Nicole were once the best of friends, spending summers together in the Maine island house owned by Nicole’s family, but they have since grown apart. A successful travel writer, Charlotte lives on the road, while Nicole, a food blogger, lives in Philadelphia with her surgeon-husband, Julian.

When Nicole returns to the island house to write a book about island food, she invites her old friend Charlotte for both sentimental and practical reasons. Outgoing and passionate, Charlotte has a gift for talking to people and making friends, and Nicole would like her help interviewing locals for her book. Missing genuine connections in her life, Charlotte agrees.

Reuniting that June on Quinnipeague, they feel the same excitement they always did.  But ten years have changed them.  There are secrets, born of betrayal and fear, that could destroy their friendship for good.  And they aren't alone on the island.  There are locals wary of betraying confidences, ill-timed visits from Nicole’s mother and step-daughter, and more food than any woman who loves island food could ever ask for.  Through it all, Nicole struggles to save her marriage, while Charlotte is drawn, night after night, to the far end of the island, where the herbs for which island food is renowned scent the ocean air.  Equal parts gourmet, homeopathic, and mystical, these herbs, so crucial to Nicole’s cookbook, are being safeguarded by a dangerous man and his dog.

As the days pass and secrets fall, the two women survive test after test.  But with the last one, a health crisis for Nicole’s husband, Charlotte has to decide whether to reveal a final secret that could either save his life – or destroy him.

Sweet Salt Air is filled with gut-wrenching emotion, family drama, and forbidden love.  All that, plus a plethora of taste and smell, make it as sensual a book as I've written in years!


"With grace and dignity Sweet Salt Air reveals the fragility of human nature while intimating at the healing powers of forgiveness.  The depiction of this tiny fictitious island with a varied and outstanding populace is well contextualized, as the author evokes the senses with sights, scents, and sounds such as:  “Today, there was just the smell of sunscreen and surf, hours without awareness of time, and when the sun was at its highest and warmest, crab cakes on buns, topped with Dorey’s special tartar sauce."
—NY Journal of Books

“Delinsky captures the magic of coastal Maine in this beautifully written book about friendship and redemption.  The characters are engaging and their various plights believable.  The drama of betrayal, the tension of risk and the triumph of friendship play out in a setting that is a character in itself.  [Sweet Salt Air is] a fantastic summer read!”
—RT Book Reviews

“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. ”

"Sweet Salt Air blends heartbreaking drama with complicated secrets and an enchanting love story.  Once best friends, Charlotte and Nicole spent summers together in Nicole’s island home off the coast of Maine. However, the women have been kept apart by the years and secrets between them.  Charlotte now lives life on the road as a successful writer. Nicole, a food blogger lives with her husband, a surgeon, in Pennsylvania. When Nicole is asked to write a book about island food, she invites Charlotte back to the island home to help.  Both women have secrets that may change their lives forever. Nicole’s secret could destroy her marriage yet save her husband. Charlotte’s secret could cost her Nicole’s friendship but free her to love again, something she hasn't done in a long time.  In the midst of the women’s secrets are wonderful characters with secrets of their own and a beautiful setting that inspires love, friendship and truth.  Sweet Salt Air is the essence of a summer rolled into a beach read.  You won’t want to miss it."
—A Cozy Reader's Corner Reviews

"We thought the writing was very visual and it evoked clear pictures of the beach. Delinsky's writing was so descriptive that we could smell the herbs, taste the food, feel the ocean spray and hear the waves."
—Warwick Township Book Club

"We enjoyed Barbara's description of Quinnipeague and could envision the rocky shoreline of Maine, and smell the food in the "chowda" house, and the fragrant flowers and herbs in the gardens. Charlotte, Nicole, Leo and Julian's tangled relationships and history provided good discussion when our club met. This book is coming out at the perfect time to provide enjoyable reading at the coast or pool this summer."
—The Steele Magnolias Book Club

"This is one of my favorite books that I have read in a while. I loved how the story developed and the many ways that story lines and characters connected. The romantic scenes were so HOT without being graphic....my favorite way to have them."
—Nan E.

"We all really enjoyed it and were impressed by all we learned about the many themes in the book--must have required a lot of research! When I read it, the plot moved me right along and I was so moved by it that I read it a second time to appreciate how beautifully it's crafted. Can't say enough good things about this book."
—The LVE Book Club

"The book is terrific and we all enjoyed it very much. The location, the characters, all of the turn of events, wonderful writing. Our club has come to the conclusion that this book will make an excellent movie, and of course we had our own discussion of who would be best actor/actress for many of the characters. We just had a great night of discussion."
—Happy Endings Book Club

"Barbara Delinsky's Sweet Salt Air is an emotional story with strong, likable central characters—Charlotte, Nicole and Leo—all of whom are guarding secrets. It would be too simple to say that Sweet Salt Air is solely about secrets, as it goes much deeper than that. Delinsky’s story is about atonement and redemption. It is also about and a sense of belonging and of finding oneself, especially for Charlotte. Delinsky has chosen a wonderfully rich and vibrant coastal island as backdrop, the close-knit community of Quinnipeague, Maine, and its eclectic inhabitants."
—Heroes and Heartbreakers.com

"The way Barbara Delinsky writes has a touch of magic in it.  As a reader, I felt like I was there on Quinnipeague with Nicole and Charlotte and Leo and the whole cast of characters.  I was firmly tied to the characters’ emotions, which just enhanced the story and the reading all the more.  I can see all of the scenes and places so vividly in my mind’s eye.  And the way I see it, that’s the telltale marking of an excellent story."
—On a Book Bender

“I loved this book from the second chapter! All of Barbara's novels do the same thing- they draw you in, set you in the book, and you never want to leave! This book is NO exception! [...] the characters could be you, your friends, your family members. She resolves the secret in a wonderful way, and Nicole and Charlotte find their way back to each other, as true friends always do!"
—Bless Their Hearts Mom

“The characters are complex, complicated and flawed. It's hard to completely love them but it's equally hard not to really like them,  hope for them,  root for them.. One moment we're sympathizing and the next we're questioning,  Regardless, one couldn't help but become  invested in their stories, in their pasts and their futures [...] And this was an entirely enjoyable and fulfilling journey.”
—Melissa's Eclectic Bookshelf

"I didn't want to race along just reading for story. I wanted to soak up the ambiance of Quinnipeague Island, just off the coast of Maine. I wanted to vicariously experience the distinctive smells, the feel of the wind, the sand and rocks along the beach, all the things that excite the senses. I especially wanted to be a part of Charlotte Evans “going home again” and reconnecting with her dearest friend. [Barbara Delinsky] transports the reader into that world so apart from the bustling world most people are used to. Her exquisite writing style with amazing descriptions, attention to detail, hint of magic, and love that lifts up and sets the heart singing makes Sweet Salt Air an absorbing novel—a story to enjoy to the very last word."
—Long and Short Reviews

"From the get-go the book held my interest for two reasons...it held two of my passions-blogging and farm to table eating. I really loved this book, I think because it hit home on so many levels [...] It was nice to read a book with an interesting perspective on farm-to-table eating and the lives of locavores, a lesson of marriage and a story of lifelong friendship all in one."
—Little Blog Dress

"Barbara Delinsky knows how to write relationships.  Her characters are three dimensional, relatable and honest.  With honest problems and passions [...] Nor is she afraid to write about the tough issues that bring real drama to everyday contemporary life; issues like infidelity, illness, even child abuse.  These topics could be heavy-handed, but again, Ms Delinsky brings an honesty of emotion to the page that invites real  empathy with her characters. True romance lovers will not be disappointed in this book, and neither will women’s fiction readers.  There’s something here for everyone.  And that’s the mark of a great writer."
—It's Only a Novel

"Delinsky's characters never disappoint and this story is another winner for me. One note: eat before you read this book. The food descriptions are a true delight and I was starving for some of the recipes."
—Book Hound




Charlotte Evans was used to feeling grungy. As a free-lancer, she traveled on a shoestring, getting stories other writers did not precisely because she wasn't fussy about how she lived. In the last twelve months, she had survived dust while writing about elephant keepers in Kenya, ice while writing about the spirit bear of British Columbia, and flies while writing about a family of nomads in India.
She could certainly survive a mizzling, as the Irish called it, though the heavy mist seeped through everything – jeans, boots, even the thick fisherman’s sweater she wore. The sweater was on loan from the woman under whose roof she was sleeping on this least populated of the three Aran Islands, and though Charlotte did have a fireplace in her bedroom, hot water was in short supply in the small stone cottage. She could have used a steamy shower, a thorough washing of her clothes, and a solid day of sun.
Read the full excerpt


At the same time that I was trying to decide what to write next, my latest grandchild was born.  There in the hospital room, immediately after the delivery, was a box containing umbilical cord blood that had been harvested from the baby’s umbilical cord right after it was cut.  Within hours, that blood was picked up by a courier and whisked to a cord blood bank, where it was frozen and stored for future use by either my son’s family or, if they choose to donate it, an anonymous recipient.

Possible uses?  This intrigued me.  I knew that umbilical cord blood contained stem cells with as much potential as embryonic stem cells, minus the ethical issues, but I wondered what that potential held.  So I contacted a doctor who is in the forefront of stem cell research.  Knowing that my book would hit stores three years later and wanting to be on the cutting edge, I asked him what he thought the next three to five years would bring in terms of stem cell treatments.  MS, he said, suggesting that transplants using umbilical cord blood would eventually, successfully, treat this disease.  As I write these comments, the technique is still experimental, but the hope is there.

And so, Sweet Salt Air was born.  In the course of its writing, I learned a lot about flowers and herbs, roofing a house, and MS.  Oh, and love.  There’s always more to learn about that.

Read the conversation with Barbara, excerpted from an interview by Margaret Wappler for Goodreads.
Read Barbara's essay, "The Art of Friendship."

Download the Discussion Guide for Sweet Salt Air.