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  • Location: Quebec, Gaspe Peninsula

We Were the Salt of the Sea

Why a Booktrail?

2000s: On Quebec’s outlying Gaspe Peninsula, the truth can be slippery…

  • Translator: David Warriner
  • Genre: Fiction

What you need to know before your trail

As Montrealer Catherine Day sets foot in a remote fishing village and starts asking around about her birth mother, the body of a woman dredges up in a fisherman’s nets. Not just any woman, though: Marie Garant, an elusive, nomadic sailor and unbridled beauty who once tied many a man’s heart in knots. Detective Sergeant Joaquin Morales, newly drafted to the area from the suburbs of Montreal, barely has time to unpack his suitcase before he’s thrown into the deep end of the investigation. On Quebec’s outlying Gaspe Peninsula, the truth can be slippery, especially down on the fishermen’s wharves.

Travel Guide

Gaspe Peninsula

What a haunting and melodic place for a mystery crime novel to be set. The sea is the leading character, the winds blow on every page, the waters lap against every word, the salt you can taste as you turn the pages…

The sea here is not just a body of water but a lifestyle:

“She’s the wave that drags you away from shore and then carries you home. A whirlpool of indecisiveness, hypnotizing, holding you captive”

“Around here you out to understand, the sea puts food on people’s plates but every family pays their dues to the water”

Despite the haunting atmosphere, the foggy air, the winds, the waters which claim everything for its own, there is a sense that this landscape is not just somewhere you live but where you experience and carry with you in your soul:

There’s also a chance to visit a few places as when one character offers a quick tour:

You start off along the coast. “Visit the Reford Gardens see the famous salmon run and six wedding house in Matane”, it says , then after that you’re into the Haute Gaspesie”

“You’ll be amazed by the wind far in Cap=Chat an won’t want to miss the Parc National de la Gaspesie or the La Martre Lighthouse Museum.”

“Then you move on to the Point, ” And it’s ccolourful villages and shops, the Northern Gannets of Bonventure Island , Perce and the Rock and Forillon National Park”

Booktrailer Review

Susan: @thebooktrailer

This is a magical and ethereal, haunting novel which beautifully captures the essence and landscape of the Gaspé Peninsula The setting is the story and the story is the setting.

Written by an author who knows the area she writes about well, she paints an ethereal picture of unique shades with colours and the essence of the ocean.

The main story of a woman going to find out about her mother becomes entangled in the nets of a mystery. It opens up the secrets and lies of a very traditional fishing community which when the nets are opened, the sea claims everything for its own. The mystery and murder story play out against a strong background with strong local characters at the fore.

There is so much I want to say about this novel, rave about it and shout how much I recommend it, but that will spoil your discovery of it. Each chapter section is entitled with an ode to the sea – Traps and nets, Dredgers and Trawlers and with stories of a boat called The Alberto in 1974, this is all encompassing. It’s an immersive read.

I do just want to say how excellent and flawless the translation was as well. David Warriner has injected another level of mystery and overriding spookiness to the novel.

It’s a novel to savour, to sink into, to allow the words to flow over you and immerse you fully.

Booktrail Boarding Pass: We Were the Salt of the Sea

Destination: Quebec, Gaspe Peninsula  Author/Guide:  Roxanne Bouchard Departure Time: 1974, 2007

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