The Salt God’s Daughter by Ilie Ruby
By SMW Staff
Set in Long Beach, California, beginning in the 1970s, The Salt God’s Daughter follows three generations of extraordinary women who share something unique—something magical and untamed that makes them unmistakably different from others. Theirs is a world teeming with ancestral stories, exotic folklore, inherited memory, and meteoric myths.
Meet Diana Gold, who raises her two daughters on the road, charting their course according to an imagined map of secrets drawn from the Old Farmer’s Almanac. Meet her daughters—Ruthie and Dolly—who are raised in the back of their mother’s station wagon and then later in an old motel turned retirement home on the ocean, a place where the residents run with half-packed suitcases into the ocean at night, where lipstick kisses are left on handkerchiefs and buried in empty bottles, and where love comes in the most unlikely and mysterious of places—perhaps it even walks right out of the ocean in the form of a man.
Ruthie and Dolly are caught in the wilds of this enchanted landscape, fiercely protective of each other and unaware of how far they have drifted from traditional society. But when they are suddenly forced to strike out on their own, they are caught in the riptide of a culture that both demonizes and glorifies female sexuality. It is within this conflicted landscape that tragedy strikes. Years later, Ruthie’s daughter is born with a secret that will challenge her ties to the women in her family, and to the ocean.
Impeccably narrated in two powerful and distinctive voices, The Salt God’s Daughter puts a feminist spin on a traditional Scottish folktale about the selkies—a provocative, timeless story that explores our ability to transcend the limitations of a world that can be hostile to those who are different, and to find joy and belonging in our unmistakable humanness.
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From the Author:
The stories of the women who populate THE SALT GOD’S DAUGHTER were inspired by the confluence of real life and Celtic myth, which I learned from a folksong my mother liked to play on the guitar, The Great Silkie of Sule Skerry. While the myth is the map, its many roads reflect the experiences of my grandmothers, of my mother, of my friends, and of four young girls I never knew but whose histories found me and begged to be written down and shared. My wish was to illuminate the female experience through generations–not only those times that are shrouded in shadows, but also those that are lovely and beautiful, and made indelible with light. At its heart this is a story about true love, sometimes found between mothers and daughters, in the secrets of sisters, and in the arms of the first person with whom you ever shared your heart. When all is said and done, this novel belongs to resolute sisters Ruthie and Dolly. Their journey of discovery and survival is at the center of this story.