cover image Thirst for Salt

Thirst for Salt

Madelaine Lucas. Tin House, $16.95 trade paper (272p) ISBN 978-1-953534-65-1

Australian writer Lucas’s intelligent debut tracks a love affair between a young woman and an older man. The unnamed narrator, now 37, reflects on the “pause” in her life between graduating from college at 24 and “whatever would happen next.” She recounts a seaside vacation with her mother from that time, when she meets a local named Jude, 42. Soon, the two are sleeping together, and after she returns to her apartment in Sydney, they stay in touch, and she visits Jude on weekends before deciding to quit her part-time bookselling job and move in with him. The two adopt a stray dog and spend months living in bliss, but when the narrator suspects Jude of having feelings for an older female friend, and he bristles at the idea of introducing the narrator to his mother, the narrator second-guesses her devotion to him. There’s not much of a plot involving this well-trod story of a fractured love affair, but Lucas keenly captures the relationship’s slow erosion, as well as the narrator’s ability to make sense of her past while looking back on it. The author’s psychological acuity will keep readers piqued. Agent: Samantha Shea, George Borchardt. (Mar.)