Madhuri reviews a book by Raynor Winn; “Excellent writing by a first-time author; and a tale very close to the bone. Highly recommended!”
The Salt Path
by Raynor Winn
Penguin Random House, 2018, UK
Imagine… you’re a householder, a small-farmer, and you’ve poured all your love and energy into this for all of your adult life – you and your husband had renovated the property from a ruin, doing all the work. Your marriage is solid and joyful, your kids grown. You’re utterly planted where you are.
Then, in the space of a week, you lose the house and land and find out that your husband has a wasting disease that is going to kill him.
And so you’re both homeless, penniless – and all the public assistance you’re eligible for comes to £48 a week.
This couple bought cheap backpacks, stuffed them with the very barest necessities, and went for a 630-mile walk on the South West Trail, from Minehead to Poole, around the edge of Cornwall to Devon, camping wild and living on noodles and tea.
They suffered – oh god yes – rain, sunburn, cold, the husband’s physical agony. But they also found something far greater than what they could have anticipated, as they took one step at a time into the Unknown and into Nature.
This is a superb book – I was utterly gripped – the descriptions of sea, sky and land are endlessly deft, rich, and wonderful. Having myself been homeless I read with a shudder the indignities they met with – but revelled admiringly in the raw, gorgeous trudge along the path.
They meet characters, of course – a tarot reader, a wine mogul – adding spice to what is already a salty broth.
And all that toil and hardship – exactly what the husband’s doctor did not recommend – has a strangely healing effect on the wasting disease.
Excellent writing by a first-time author; and a tale very close to the bone.