“Birdsong, wind: here by the ocean every noise was surrounded by silence that reached all the way to the stars. Monica studied the white shingled building above the slope of green lawn, deep bays rising two storeys on each side of the front door and the windowed porch. You felt the big rambling construction must have a memory, old thoughts. Listen, I am the voice of what once was. I am as real as the beating of your hungry heart. A flash of sun blinded her, a pirouette of the dazzling god.”
So begins David Helwig’s Saltsea. A lovely, meditative novel, a story about memory, and about how what once was continues to affect what is and what will be. It is the story of a place, of the family that used to own it, and the people who have been its caretakers. Saltsea, a hotel on the shores of Prince Edward Island, where people come for a brief time, their lives intersecting in intimate and unforeseen ways. The characters of Saltsea are finely drawn, with humour, love and compassion. Sadness and even tragedy are a constant here, but Helwig handles it all humanely, without sentimentality, and with the control of a writer at the height of his powers. Saltsea, befitting a novel so concern with memory, is not something you will soon forget.
“The impetus of the story is love, in all its forms — love, lust, affection, friendship, hatred. And it is marvellously told.”—The Indextrious Reader
“Helwig’s writing is both poetic and panoramic, and it defines the setting in such concrete detail that it conjures smells and sounds to accompany the images.”—Canadian Literature