The Salt Letters
The Salt Letters evokes a young woman’s flight from England to the wilds of Australia in 1854. In steerage, she joins other unmarried women, where the horrors of their close confinement bring an unraveling of secrets no one can control. Sarah endures longing for her mother’s forgiveness and the sweetness of Richard’s breath. As she draws closer to her new land, she becomes increasingly haunted by her own tale and the letter home she cannot write. Moving between the voyage in which pigs run through flooded living quarters to the hallucinatory visions induced by head and doldrums, Christine Balint’s wondrous debut novel brings us close to a time when the world was still a place to be discovered.
Ophelia’s Fan reimagines the bittersweet life of Harriet Smithson, the Irish tragedienne who inspired Berlioz’s Symphonie Fantastique. With the arrival of Charles Kemble’s English Theatre troupe in Paris in 1827, the Odeon Theatre is awash with the drama and music of Shakespeare. Harriet is Ophelia. The French Romantics swoon, and high-society women plait straw in their hair in honour of her mad maid. The fiery composer Hector Berlioz falls in love, and their passionate affair culminates in a tumultuous marriage.
© Christine Balint, 2018