The Orphan of Salt Winds
January 2019 Indie Next List
— Javier Ramirez, The Book Table, Oak Park, IL
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Summer 2019 Reading Group Indie Next List
— Kelsey O'Rourke, Literati Bookstore, Ann Arbor, MI
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For fans of Eowyn Ivey, Rose Tremaine, and Kate Atkinson, The Orphan of Salt Winds is a bewitching debut about the secrets that haunt us.
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.
Praise For The Orphan of Salt Winds…
— Eowyn Ivey, author of THE SNOW CHILD
The Orphan of Salt Winds is an atmospheric, beautifully paced novel about sacrifice, the urge to belong, and revenge. It’s full of well-drawn characters I loved to hate, and those that I didn’t want to let go, even after I closed the last page.
— Claire Fuller, author of SWIMMING LESSONS
Filled with unexpected twists, beautifully rendered characters, and told with great style, The Orphan of Salt Winds will seep into your soul.
— Keith Donohue, author of THE STOLEN CHILD
Like Daphne du Maurier, this novel powerfully conjures up a
a time and a story that are unforgettable.
— Rosamund Lupton, author of SISTER
Hauntingly gothic . . . This quietly unsettling tale holds its secrets close, making for a powerful story of loss and longing.
— Publishers Weekly
The Orphan of Salt Winds is the perfect winter read — evocative, gothic, and utterly transportive.
Elizabeth Brooks’s writing has a quietly magical quality that conjures the atmosphere of Salt Winds effortlessly. This novel is a tenuous and thrilling unfolding of how events in Virginia’s past shape her actions in the present. An excellent blend of psychological mystery with a coming-of-age story, packaged in a unique historical setting—The Orphan of Salt Winds genuinely gave me goosebumps.
— Johanna Albrecht, McIntyre’s Bookshop
I love this story! It captivated me from the
first page and I was mesmerized
until the last! Elizabeth Brooks has developed such wonderful characters and I
developed strong feelings about all of them. . . . And then add to that some mystery with an unexpected twist at the
end! What more could you ask for? A must read!
— Stephanie Crowe, Page & Palette
The Orphan of Salt Winds simultaneously functions as a gothic, historical, psychological mystery and bildungsroman.
— Arkansas International
Tin House Books, 9781947793224
Publication Date: January 15, 2019
About the Author
Elizabeth Brooks is the author of The Orphan of Salt Winds and The Whispering House. She grew up in Chester, England, graduated from Cambridge University, and resides on the Isle of Man with her husband and two children.
Conversation Starters from ReadingGroupChoices.com
1. What was your first impression of Lorna and Clem? Did this change over time?
2. How would you describe the atmosphere of the house at Salt Winds—emotionally, socially, and culturally? How did this setting shape your reading experience?
3. What is Lorna and Clem’s relationship to Max Deering? How does their complicated past influence Virginia’s interactions with him?
4. Is Lorna right to give shelter to a German airman, in the context of the second World War?
5. Why do you think Jozef writes Call of the Curlew for Virginia’s twelfth birthday?
6. What, if anything, does Virginia gain from her encounter with Sophie Deering?
7. What is the significance of the Curlew skull Virginia finds on New Year’s Eve?
8. Why does Max Deering slink away, defeated, after his encounter with Lorna and Jozef? He’s won, hasn’t he?
9. Salt Winds is cold, lonely and full of the darkest memories. Why do you think, once she is old enough to leave, Virginia chooses to stay?
10. The Orphan of Salt Winds grapples with the theme of guilt. Which character do you blame most for what happens on the marsh?