cover image The Gilly Salt Sisters

The Gilly Salt Sisters

Tiffany Baker. Grand Central, $24.99 (384p) ISBN 978-0-446-19423-5

From the author of The Little Giant of Aberdeen County comes this quirky and uneven novel set on Cape Cod’s salt marshes and the family salt farm of the Gilly sisters, Jo and Claire. After the deaths of their brother, Henry, and later, their mother, Claire sets a barn on fire, and as a result, badly scars her older sister. She then marries into the town’s most prominent and acquisitive family, leaving Jo to run the failing farm on her own. The prologue establishes the novel’s strong gothic overtones, especially Jo’s memories of the town’s annual scrying, a fortune-telling practice in which she was required to throw salt into a bonfire to predict events for the coming year, with unhappy results. Though the contrast between familiar, universal conflicts and the forays into the mysteries of the elemental sometimes works against the narrative, the characters and Baker’s prose engage. (Mar.)