Monday, January 10, 2011
Review-The House on Salt Hay Road by Carin Clevidence
Farrar, Strauss and Giroux
Clayton and his sister Nancy lost both parents and have moved in with their mother’s family on Salt Hay Road on Long Island. In the Spring of 1937 a firework factory explosion rocks the community as the story opens and you soon get a sense of the family dynamics. Nancy takes on the role of mother to Clayton causing some resentment on his part. She never quite accepts her circumstances or the love of her Aunt, Uncle, grandfather. When Nancy meets Robert, a visitor from Boston, she is swept away by his charm and with impulsivity agrees to marry him. Nancy assumes that Clayton will move with her, but when he refuses she is forced to leave her only family and move to Boston.
After her departure, Grandfather Scudder, is filled with sorrow and his health deteriorates as he grieves her absence. Aunt Mavis questions her own marriage left abandoned by her husband. Uncle Roy, never married becomes interested in a newcomer to the island. Clay finds a job and avoids school whenever possible. Nancy feels isolated and unhappy. When the hurricane of 1938 slams the eastern seaboard, all are caught off guard. This is not a story about this devastating hurricane, but more about the choices made, consequences, and ultimate forgiveness.
The first half sets the tone and the rhythm of daily life for the Poole family. The setting is vivid and charming as anyone who lives or visits the shore will embrace. Each character touches you with compassionate familiarity. Readers may find the pace at the beginning slow, however, the second half is much more engaging as the family struggles through the hurricane and its aftermath. The House on Salt Hay Road is a pensive and memorable achievement with a timeless message.
First published in Historical Novels Review, September 2010.
Disclosure: Copy of book was provided by HNR. This review is original and without bias.
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