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Reviewed by Amanda Rofe for Readers' Favorite
Saltwater Joys by Dianna Brown begins in the 1960s in Ireland's Eye, a town situated on the edge of Newfoundland and Labrador. During the controversial Confederation with Canada which centralized people into growth areas, the inhabitants of this fishing outpost were offered relocation to the mainland with the promise of jobs and a better life. All but one of the inhabitants eventually make the move. One remaining resident refuses to go and barely survives the harsh climate and lonely existence. Events from the past come back to haunt him and he suffers physically as well as mentally during his enforced isolation. This is a novel about the intense love of one couple and a family torn apart from a once close-knit coastal community.
Dianna Brown writes a deeply haunting saga of the lasting repercussions of a community's relocation to the mainland. This is a dark tale of grief and torment suffered by one of the remaining inhabitants. I loved the ethereal quality surrounding the main character's solitary existence in this rugged outpost. His dark thoughts and ghostly encounters were often enigmatic, giving me the feeling of otherworldliness and things beyond my understanding. There was a fierceness surrounding this man's loss which was superbly depicted. The novel was wrapped up in a well thought out and satisfying ending. Saltwater Joys is a rich narrative providing a glimpse into the lives of remote communities and local characters which are all but lost to imperious government policies. Books like this allow us to glimpse the past and wonder.