Holiday Sale! Save 20% on a BookBrowse membership - for yourself or to give as a gift.

Read advance reader review of Above the Salt by Katherine Vaz, page 3 of 4

Summary | Reviews | More Information | More Books

Above the Salt

A Novel

by Katherine Vaz

Above the Salt by Katherine Vaz X
Above the Salt by Katherine Vaz
Buy This Book

About this book


Page 3 of 4
There are currently 28 member reviews
for Above the Salt
Order Reviews by:
  • Linda Z. (Melville, NY)
    An Amazing Historical Fiction Novel
    Katherine Vaz, the author of "Above the Salt," has written a captivating, poignant, and memorable novel. The genres for this novel are Historical Fiction, Romance, Civil War, and Fiction. Katherine Vaz puts a magical feel in her prose, and this well-written story vividly describes the scenery, landscape, plot, and colorful and dramatic characters. John Alves and Mary Freitas are Portuguese refugees from childhood to late adulthood. Much of the background history deals with Catholics and Protestants friction and the time before, during, and after the Civil War. John spent part of his childhood with his mother, a Protestant martyr, in a jail in Madeira. John spent his young life in poverty and met Mary Freitas, an adopted daughter of a famous Botanist. As conflict and war between the two religions intensifies, both find themselves headed to America at different times. John becomes an educator for deaf students and experiments with ways to improve the student's learning mode. Mary and her father bring some "magical" plants to the United States and work as gardeners for Edward Moore, a wealthy landowner. Edward does help Mary with her business and would like to be engaged to her. Mary has not forgotten John Alves. When they do meet again, many things have changed. Some people are jealous and cause betrayal. The Start of the Civil War complicates the relationships. I appreciate how the author discusses the tragedies of the Civil War, the brutality, and the cost of lives. There were twists and turns and some unexpected and emotional surprises. I love the poetic images the author describes of nature and the symbolism of the characters. I highly recommend this thought-provoking and heartfelt novel to other readers. I found much of the background educational and became aware of some things I didn't know.
    I look forward to reading more books from this author.
  • Kay E. (Meadows Place, TX)
    Above the Salt
    I enjoy reading a book that takes me through a family history of trials and triumphs as this author does. From the Portuguese island of Madeira where Protestants were being persecuted, begins the saga of Serafina Alves and her three children. After escaping the island, they eventually settled in New York City for a brief spell. Then the Portuguese Protestant group was relocated in Jacksonville, Illinois.

    This is a story that that the author, Katherine Vaz, makes me want to "dig deeper". There is much history to explore. The author encourages this by her vivid descriptions of cities, farms, wars, Lincoln's home life, and information that begs you to examine.

    I recommend this book of lost and found ideals, friends, family and lover.
  • Patricia W. (Desoto, TX)
    Above the Salt
    The story began in the mid-nineteenth century in Madeira, a Portuguese Island, and continued to the early twentieth century in the United States. It was interesting to read about the world during this time span. The story showed the struggles to survive through hardships, religious persecution, poverty, being an immigrant in a new homeland, poverty, and social class injustices.

    It is very difficult to understand the conflicts among different branches of Christianity throughout time, especially when a certain population is driven from its homeland. This is the catalyst that brings the main characters to the United States. The portrayal of the Civil War is brutal and a reminder of the senselessness of war. Love is a constant theme throughout the book, including the great love of parents for their birth children and adopted children, romantic love that endures all challenges, and love of religion and native lands.

    The story also depicts a strong, capable women who was ahead of her time and how inventions enrich everyday life. It also provided a lesson in botany and horticulture. Although the story began a little slow and moved ahead quickly at times, it pulled at my heart.
  • Rosemary C. (Golden, CO)
    A lyrical and epic story
    I very much enjoyed this book.Vaz writes in lyrical prose and the story is compelling and poignant. Initially it seemed to move a bit slow, but pushing through was worthwhile. I think this would be a good book for book clubs to talk about, especially regarding the historical facts woven into the narrative.The author also covers themes of loss, sacrifice, overcoming obstacles, and true love in a way that pulls on the heartstrings and makes for an engaging read and interesting discussion.
  • Becky H. (Manassas, VA)
    An enduring and endearing love story
    After a slow start, due primarily to the detailed, short and apparently unconnected vignettes, I got into the rhythm of this detailed tale of one family persecuted for beliefs and forced to leave their homeland for America. John, the main character, starves with his mother for her religious beliefs when she is jailed. Although soon released, John is forever scarred by this episode.
    John, continues to America where he continues to grow successful gardens (beautiful writing here) meet various people, including Abraham Lincoln, and reconnects with Mary, a former neighbor, in the enduring and endearing love story.
    Although a bit too long (where have all the editors gone?) this is a well written, engaging story with real events and persons seamlessly woven in. Well worth the time spent wading through the initial disconnectedness to a classic tale of family, endurance, pride, hard work, serendipity and love.
    4 ½ stars
  • Tonyia R. (Hillsborough, NJ)
    Captivating at times….
    Above the Salt by Katherine Vaz started out quite interesting about Portuguese Protestants being persecuted regarding their beliefs and fleeing and adapting to life in United States. The most intriguing aspects of the book was about the Portuguese immigrant, John Alves and his family. They accomplished so much given their resources and embraced their new home. The other stories were tedious and i couldn't want them to end. I just wanted to skip over these sections. The author did great research on the Portuguese people during the 19th century and their amazing contributions to our culture and land. It started as a 4 but ended up as a 3.
  • Ellie B. (Mount Airy, MD)
    An American Immigrant's love story
    The story begins with a toddler starving in prison in Portugal due to his mother's religious beliefs. John, the toddler, is released, and we follow his story of waiting years for his mother's release, and their migration through New York City to Illinois. A beautiful young girl he had known in Portugal also appears in Springfield, Illinois, and their relationship is the basis for the rest of the novel (based on a true story). Each of them is highly skilled, and their contact with Abraham Lincoln before his election to the presidency produces the title of the book. The Civil War intervenes; they lead separate lives for many years, but ultimately, amazing connections bring them together. The author did an excellent job weaving all the details of the difficulties of life in the 1800s into this interesting book.

More Information


Holiday Sale!

Discover exceptional books
for just $3/month.

Find out more

Award Winners

  • Book Jacket: The Covenant of Water
    The Covenant of Water
    by Abraham Verghese
    BookBrowse Fiction Award 2023

    Along the Malabar Coast of South India in 1900, a 12-year-old girl ...
  • Book Jacket: In Memoriam
    In Memoriam
    by Alice Winn
    BookBrowse Debut Book Award 2023

    Alice Winn's remarkable debut, In Memoriam, opens in 1914 at ...
  • Book Jacket: The Wager
    The Wager
    by David Grann
    BookBrowse Nonfiction Award 2023

    David Grann is a journalist, a staff writer for The New Yorker and...
  • Book Jacket: Remember Us
    Remember Us
    by Jacqueline Woodson
    BookBrowse YA Book Award 2023

    Remember Us is set largely across a single hazy summer of the 1970s in...

BookBrowse Book Club

Book Jacket
by Sandra Newman
From critically acclaimed novelist Sandra Newman, a brilliantly relevant retelling of Orwell's 1984 from the point of Smith's lover, Julia.

Members Recommend

  • Book Jacket

    This Is Salvaged
    by Vauhini Vara

    Stories of uncanny originality from Vauhini Vara, a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize in Fiction.

  • Book Jacket

    Above the Salt
    by Katherine Vaz

    A sweeping love story that follows two Portugueses refugees who flee religious violence to build new lives in Civil-War America.

Who Said...

Everywhere I go, I am asked if I think the university stifles writers...

Click Here to find out who said this, as well as discovering other famous literary quotes!

Your guide toexceptional          books

BookBrowse seeks out and recommends the best in contemporary fiction and nonfiction—books that not only engage and entertain but also deepen our understanding of ourselves and the world around us.