Book Review: Love and Salt Water by Ethel Wilson

Title: Love and Salt Water
Author: Ethel Wilson
My Rating: ♥♥♥♥

Love and Salt Water. I really couldn’t think of a more fitting title for this book. Love. SLove and Salt Wateralt Water. You could consider those to be the the two main characters of the story.

This book really grew on me, especially as it drew closer to the end. After finishing the book, I decided that I really liked it as a whole, though there were times while I was reading it that I thought I should just give up and move on to something else. I think that’s because in the first part of the book, nothing that interesting really happens. Well, okay, the main character’s mother dies and her father takes her on some interminable voyage by sea. I didn’t really feel the tragedy of the mother’s death, but rather it felt like a tool so that the author could get them out onto the water.

The second part of the story begins to get a lot more interesting. The main character, Ellen, has to take her pampered nephew away to visit an aunt because her sister and her husband have to go on a work trip. While they are there, tragedy strikes, almost, and in the last quarter of the book the interesting parts start.

Getting back to that main character of salt water. I really enjoyed the different roles that salt water played in the book. The sea was a constant presence, except I suppose when Ellen lived on the Prairies. She couldn’t keep away from it for long, even though I suppose it also had quite a negative meaning. For example, because her father took her floating away over the sea after her mother’s death, and while on that voyage she saw a sailor boy swept away by the sea. Also, because salt water was the ultimate cause of the almost-tragedy towards the end of the book.

I’m glad that I read this book. Its setting in BC in the 30s(?) is lovely and probably very different to how that part of the world is now. I’ve added Swamp Angel, one of Ethel Wilson’s other well-known books, to my to read list.