Sweet Salt Air (Delinsky)

Sweet Salt Air
Barbara Delinsky, 2013
St. Martin's Press
416 pp.
ISBN-13: 9781250007032

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. (From the publisher.)

Author Bio
AKA—Ruth Greenberg, Billie Douglass, Bonnie Drake
Birth—August 9, 1945
Where—Boston, Massachusetts, USA
Education—B.A., Tufts University; M.A., Boston College
Awards—Romantic Times Magazine: Special Achievement
   (twice), Reviewer's Choice, and Best Contemporary
   Romance Awards; from Romance Writers of America:
   Golden Medallion and Golden Leaf Awards.
Currently—lives in Newton, Massachusetts

Barbara Delinsky (born as Barbara Ruth Greenberg) is an American writer of twenty New York Times bestsellers. She has also been published under the pen names Bonnie Drake and Billie Douglass.

Delinsky was born near Boston, Massachusetts. Her mother died when she was only eight, which she describes on her website as the "defining event in a childhood that was otherwise ordinary."

In 1963, she graduated from Newton High School, in Newton, Massachusetts. She then went on to earn a B.A. in Psychology from Tufts University and an M.A. in Sociology at Boston College.

Delinsky married Steve Delinsky, a law student, when she was very young. During the first years of her marriage, she worked for the Massachusetts Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children. After the birth of her first child, she took a job as a photographer and reporter for the Belmont Herald newspaper. She also filled her time doing volunteer work at hospitals, and serving on the Board of Directors of the Friends of the Massachusetts General Hospital Cancer Center and their Women's Cancer Advisory Board.

In 1980, after having twins, Delinsky read an article about three female writers, and decided to try putting her imagination on paper. After three months of researching, plotting, and writing, she sold her first book. She began publishing for Dell Publishing Company as Billie Douglass, for Silhouette Books as Billie Douglass, and for Harlequin Enterprises as Barbara Delinsky. Now, she only uses her married name Barbara Delinsky, and some of her novels published under the other pseudonyms, are being published under this name. Since then, over 30 million copies of her books are in print, and they have been published in 25 languages. One of her novels, A Woman's Place, was made into a Lifetime movie starring Lorraine Bracco. Her latest work, Sweet Salt Air, is published by St. Martin's Press.

In 2001, Delinsky branched out into nonfiction with the book Uplift: Secrets from the Sisterhood of Breast Cancer Survivors. A breast cancer survivor herself, Barbara donates the proceeds of that book and her second nonfiction work to charity. With those funds she has been able to fund an oncology fellowship at the Massachusetts General Hospital that trains breast surgeons.

The Delinsky family resides in Newton, Massachusetts. Steve Delinsky has become a reputed lawyer of the city, while she writes daily in her office above the garage at her home. (From Wikipedia. Retrieved 5/21/2013.)

Visit Barbara Delinsky's website.

Book Reviews
Two old friends, troubled by present crises and past mistakes, reunite on an island off the coast of Maine.... When Nicole summons Charlotte to Quinnipeague to help with [a cook] book, Charlotte has reservations due to a secret she has harbored for years: Shortly before Nicole's wedding, she had a drunken one-night stand with [Nicole's husband] Julian. A pregnancy resulted; the child was given up for adoption.... The result: promising complications, rendered less than compelling by plodding, talky narration. Despite some appetizing menu items, pretty standard fare.
Kirkus Reviews

Discussion Questions
1. Quinnipeague is a fictional island, but based very closely on the many islands that dot Maine’s coast and are popular with summer visitors. Have you been to a seasonal island or beach community on vacation? How was Quinnipeague similar to these places you’ve visited? What characteristics make Quinnipeague unique? What interesting dynamics play out in the story because of the seasonal nature of Quinnipeague? What differences did you find between the characters who are “locals” and those that are “summer people?”

2. One of the main plotlines is Sweet Salt Air revolve around Charlotte’s and Nicole’s efforts to write a cookbook. What is the significance of food—how it’s prepared, served, and appreciated—in Sweet Salt Air? What makes the island’s food special to the two women? Do they view food, and the process of collecting recipes and the stories behind them, differently?

3. Talk about the characters’ lives off the island of Quinnipeague—Charlotte, who lives in Brooklyn but travels constantly, and Nicole who is firmly rooted to her home in Philadelphia. What does each woman’s lifestyle reveal about her personality? Do their lifestyle choices seem in keeping with what the novel reveals about them?

4. Both Charlotte and Nicole are keeping secrets at the start of the novel that they have no intention of revealing. And yet, they both ultimately do. Do you understand why each woman kept her secret from the other? Do you think one was more justified in keeping her secret? What did you think of each woman’s reaction to the truth? Have you ever kept a big secret from a friend, only to reveal it later?

5. If you were Nicole, could you forgive Charlotte for what she did? Do you think there are some things in friendship that are unforgiveable? Do you think Charlotte has forgiven herself? If yes, what happened on the island that allowed her to forgive herself? If not, what do you think she still needs to do?

6. Nicole and Julian face challenges, but every marriage is tested at one time or another. What do you think is the hardest test? Illness? Infidelity? Money? Are we stronger for the suffering? In what ways?

7. Cecily Cole is a presence throughout the book, despite her death several years earlier. How do the locals see Cecily and her garden? How does Cecily’s spirit affect each character in the novel? How do Leo’s descriptions of Cecily as a mother affect your view of her? Do you believe in the kind of lingering legacy that the women discover in the herbs and food of Quinnipeague?

8. Discuss the role of Salt to the story in Sweet Salt Air? Do you and your friends have the same taste in books? How do Charlotte’s and Nicole’s differing reactions to the book reflect their natures? How did you enjoy the experience of hearing about a book you could not read? Were you surprised when you learned who had written Salt?

9. Nicole is upset over Angie’s relationship with Tom. Do you feel that she’s justified? Have you ever witnessed a parent’s romantic involvement with a non-parent of yours? What emotions were involved for you? For your parent?

10. Leo has a “bad boy” edge. Does this make him more attractive to Charlotte? Do you think a little rebellion is attractive? Leo has committed some crimes in his life, crimes for which he’s served time in jail. What is your sense of how Leo’s time in jail affected him? Has he changed? Does doing bad things make us bad people? And what about Charlotte, who’s committed no crimes, and yet, she’s done some terrible things? Would you characterize Charlotte as “bad”?

11. If you could ask the author anything about Sweet Salt Air—clarification of a plot point, a detail about a particular character, scenes from the cutting-room floor—what would it be? (You may choose to contact Barbara Delinsky, via her website or Facebook, and ask her!)
(Questions issued by publisher.)

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