This was an example (there were three this month alone) of a book that I wanted to like much better than I actually did like it. I picked it up because I enjoyed Baker’s The Little Giant of Aberdeen County so much, and I was hoping for something just as unexpected and original with her new book. While there’s certainly nothing wrong with The Gilly Salt Sisters, there was nothing particularly fresh here either, and I didn’t find the characters quite as compelling as I’d hoped they would be.
The novel follows the story of two sisters raised in their family’s salt marsh in New England. Though most of the story takes place in the 1970s and 80s it has a strangely timeless feel to it, which might work well for some readers, although I always like to feel grounded in history. The rivalry between the two sisters, the characterizations, the suggestions of long-buried secrets and possibly curses, all felt a little formulaic to me and never seemed completely real and believable. It’s certainly not a badly-written book and I could imagine a different reader falling completely in love with it: this novel just didn’t grab me, and I’m sorry, since I really enjoy Baker’s writing.