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

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Above the Salt

A Novel

by Katherine Vaz

Above the Salt by Katherine Vaz X
Above the Salt by Katherine Vaz
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There are currently 28 member reviews
for Above the Salt
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  • Kay D. (Strongsville, OH)
    Slow Start to a Beautiful Read
    Overall, I enjoyed this book. The beginning was a bit tough for me and didn't catch me into the storyline, however, that soon changed. This is an epic book with a long and winding story that is beautifully written. Sometimes confusing due to the construction of the novel with bounding around between characters and time, I did find myself paging back to catch a detail that I missed. It is an ode to love in the purest forms and focuses on the powers that kind of love can hold. Well worth reading. Recommended for book clubs as there is a lot of potential for discussion points throughout.
  • Stephanie K. (Glendale, AZ)
    Above the Ordinary Novel
    Above the Salt by Katherine Vaz acquaints us with Madeirans John Alves and Mary Freitas, two refugees from the Catholic and Protestant conflicts who flee to the U.S. This lyrical, poignant story relates in touching detail how John and Mary are separated time and time again yet reunite several times. Set during the time of Abraham Lincoln's ascent to the Presidency and the Civil War, it ties in the suffering of two individuals with the angst of an entire nation. Readers will laugh and cry at the humanity and the depravity of the characters in this story.
  • Ilene M. (Longmont, CO)
    Too long and too scattered
    I have to agree with the other reviewers who wrote that this book is too long and too scattered. While I was interested in the religious differences of people on Madeira, which is the basis of the book, I found that the writing was average and the subject matter too scattered. I would not recommend this book to readers.
  • Lynne Z. (San Francisco, CA)
    Where is the Editor?
    Although there are things to like about Katherine Vaz's novel, After the Salt, it is an overly ambitious novel in need of major editing. As historical fiction, the descriptions of the Civil War, the religious hatred between Protestants and Catholics, and the racial and class struggles of Portuguese immigrants enrich the plot. However, the author's overuse of figurative and poetic language is disconcerting. These "lyrical" passages are often long and rambling and appear
    at inappropriate moments.

    In an epic novel, the passage of time needs smooth transitions. Moving back and forth with John and Mary's lives is detailed and well-written early in the book, but after Mary becomes pregnant with John's child and commits to her marriage with Edward, the time sequences do not flow. Long periods of time pass with little detail in between. For example, after the 1906 earthquake the story jumps to 1919 with Catherine and Zachary. For some time, it's not known know how they relate to the story or if they are connected to Mary and Edward. This is distracting.

    The characters are well-developed initially, but as time moves on less so. Mary's relationship with Edward is initially interesting because of their class differences. The dialogue between them is crisp. Edward is a contentious character, who always has excuses for his actions, but presents them convincingly. However, there seems to be an unexplained disconnect between someone who is always defending himself and later becoming the loving and devoted father and husband. The references to real people (e.g., Abraham Lincoln, Thomas Edison, Mary Pickford, etc.) feels contrived even if the novel is based on a true story that loosely connects these figures. The ending is heartwarming but seems rushed with a multitude of unbelievable coincidences.
  • Darra W. (Mendocino, CA)
    Too Much of a Good Thing
    On the plus side: In "Above the Salt," the author presents an interesting, well-researched (and to me, largely unknown) slice of 19th century history, particularly about the Catholic/Protestant unrest on the isle of Madeira and the mid-century Portuguese settlement of the American Midwest. But alas, the plot meanders, frequently overwhelmed by an overabundance of "poetic" language. This, plus a surprising lack of depth and motivation in a potentially intriguing cast of characters, lands "Salt" solidly--and sadly--in "average" territory.
  • Nancy K. (Perrysburg, OH)
    Mixed feelings about this book
    I had trouble getting into the rhythm of this book. There were many what I would call run on sentences. Such as, "Essays were invited to suggest a building, opus, or installation that might convert a lot in downtown Jacksonville, a gift from an anonymous donor, "into another manifestation of our aspirations, which are to infuse the future with charity, education, and civic vigor, not only in our fair town, but as an example to our country, in need of defining its soul. All this in one sentence! I other places there were some very short sentences. Example- "It is now." "It isn't " "It is not".
    Once I was able to get a rhythm with the varied sentences I enjoyed the book. There were some beautiful descriptions of the gardens. It also was fun to read the mentions of Lincoln and his wife and of Harriet Beecher Stowe. All in all I would give the book a 3.5.
  • Mary Jane D. (Arlington Heights, IL)
    Not impressed
    The summary of Above the Salt states it is an irresistible and sweeping love story that follows two refugees who flee religious persecution and reignite their romance in Civil-War America. It seemed like a good match for the type of story I like.

    However I was not impressed with the book. It was slow moving and had too many extraneous details. I found it confusing and cumbersome. I did not relate to the characters or their emotions and situations.

    Some of the descriptions of the Civil War were well written and presented some facts I didn't know.

    I can truthfully say I was not interested in finding out how John and Mary were able to reunite and I skimmed the last fourth of the book.

    Supposedly it was based on true facts but I think the story would have been better told in a shorter format without the extra verbiage.

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