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The House on Salt Hay Road: A Novel (edition 2011)

by Carin Clevidence

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Member:writestuff
Title:The House on Salt Hay Road: A Novel
Authors:Carin Clevidence
Info:Picador (2011), Edition: First Edition, Paperback, 304 pages
Collections:Your library, To read, Review Books To Read
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Tags:2011 Review Copy, Review Copy(Picador)

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The House on Salt Hay Road by Carin Clevidence

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I thought The House on Salt Hay Road was excellent. Most definitely worth a read. ( )
  erelsi183 | Nov 18, 2013 |
Carin Clevidence's debut novel THE HOUSE ON SALT HAY ROAD focuses on a patchwork family—young Clayton and his older sister Nancy, their aunt Mavis and uncle Roy, and grandfather Scudder—who live together in the town of Fire Neck on Long Island. The book traverses the seasons from 1937 to 1938, leading up to a 1938 hurricane that killed 50 people.

Orphaned brother-sister pair Clayton and Nancy Poole have spent the past few years of their lives in "the house on Salt Hay Road," a cottage belonging to their grandfather Scudder. Nancy is tired of the small-town atmosphere of Fire Neck and has plans to make her own way in the world as a big-city typist, but Clayton grows ever more attached to the town as he begins assisting a pair of clammers and putting away money to buy his own boat. He looks up to his uncle Roy (despite Roy's aversion to boats and the ocean) and his grandfather Scudder, who used to risk his life out on the sea with a Coast Guard-like rescue organization. They and Aunt Mavis, a nervous and superstitious woman whose bad marriage left her with a habit of getting up to bake in the middle of the night, have been surrogate parents to Clayton and Nancy. The family is disappointed in Nancy's hasty decision to marry an exciting stranger from Boston, Robert Landgraf, and move away with him.

All does not go well in Nancy's marriage, however, as she comes to realize that her husband is a stranger to her and she feels alienated from her family. Meanwhile, Mavis is haunted by her missing husband's financial obligations, while Roy struggles to make Clayton understand why he hates the sea and never married (the loss of the woman he wanted to marry caused him to attempt suicide in the bay). When Scudder becomes ill, his strength and lucidity fading fast, Nancy hurries back to Fire Neck and remains there separated from her husband, while Clayton continues to feel alienated from the sister who abandoned him. As the family struggles with relationships gone sour, a hurricane blows in from the sea and sweeps away one of their number.

THE HOUSE ON SALT HAY ROAD is a testament to the author's skill at simple but evocative imagery. She paints a detailed portrait of a Long Island beach town in the 1930s and writes with a keen eye for effective metaphors and similes. But the characters don't seem vivid and fleshed-out enough; although Mavis with her superstitions and tics was an interesting presence in the story, the other characters felt generic and bland, and I never quite felt emotionally connected with them and their struggles. The prose has its moments of blandness as well; though the imagery is effective and well-used, the narrative jumps too quickly from point of view to point of view to allow the reader to establish a connection with any particular character and suffers from an over-abundance of exposition. Fire Neck sounds lovely, but the journey through the characters' lives there was unsatisfying.
( )
  MlleEhreen | Apr 3, 2013 |
THE HOUSE ON SALT HAY ROAD
Carin Clevidence, Farrar, Strauss and Giroux, 2010, $25.00/C$18.50,HC, 304pp, 978-0-374-17314-2.

Clayton and his sister Nancy lost both parents and have moved in with their mother’s family on Salt Hay Road on Long Island. In the Spring of 1937 a firework factory explosion rocks the community as the story opens and you soon get a sense of the family dynamics. Nancy takes on the role of mother to Clayton causing some resentment on his part. She never quite accepts her circumstances or the love of her Aunt, Uncle, grandfather. When Nancy meets Robert, a visitor from Boston, she is swept away by his charm and with impulsivity agrees to marry him. Nancy assumes that Clayton will move with her, but when he refuses she is forced to leave her only family and move to Boston.

After her departure, Grandfather Scudder, is filled with sorrow and his health deteriorates as he grieves her absence. Aunt Mavis questions her own marriage left abandoned by her husband. Uncle Roy, never married becomes interested in a newcomer to the island. Clay finds a job and avoids school whenever possible. Nancy feels isolated and unhappy. When the hurricane of 1938 slams the eastern seaboard, all are caught off guard. This is not a story about this devastating hurricane, but more about the choices made, consequences, and ultimate forgiveness.

The first half sets the tone and the rhythm of daily life for the Poole family. The setting is vivid and charming as anyone who lives or visits the shore will embrace. Each character touches you with compassionate familiarity. Readers may find the pace at the beginning slow, however, the second half is much more engaging as the family struggles through the hurricane and its aftermath. The House on Salt Hay Road is a pensive and memorable achievement with a timeless message.


© [Wisteria Leigh] and [Bookworm's Dinner], [2008-2011]. ( )
  WisteriaLeigh | Jan 22, 2011 |
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Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 0374173141, Hardcover)

Product Description
A fireworks factory explodes in a quiet seaside town. In the house on Salt Hay Road, Clay Poole is thrilled by the hole it’s blown in everyday life. His older sister, Nancy, is more interested in the striking stranger who appears, dusted with ashes, in the explosion’s aftermath. The Pooles—taken in as orphans by their mother’s family—can’t yet know how the bonds of their makeshift household will be tested and frayed. As their aunt searches for signs from God and their uncle begins an offbeat courtship, they are pulled toward two greater cataclysms: the legendary hurricane of 1938 and the encroaching war.

The House on Salt Hay Road is suffused with a haunting sense of place: salt marshes in the summer, ice boats on the frozen Great South Bay, Fire Island at the height of a storm. A vivid and emotionally resonant debut, it captures the golden light of a vanished time, and the hold that home has on us long after we leave it.

Amazon Exclusive: A Q&A with Author Carin Clevidence

Q: The House on Salt Hay Road is your first novel, though you’ve already published a number of short stories. How did writing a novel differ from writing a short story?

Clevidence: Novels for me involve making a big mess and then teasing some sort of order out of the chaos of images, characters, fragments of scenes. My short stories tend to be more idea than character driven, which makes them easier for me to get a handle on as a writer and more straightforward structurally. And with a short story, I always feel that the end is in sight. With the novel, I had to take that on faith.

One of the best things about a novel, for me, is the room it gives for relationships between characters to change over time.

Q: The sleepy Long Island town in which The House on Salt Hay Road takes place is practically another character. How did you decide on placing the story on LI and what research did you do to evoke the time and aesthetics of the town?

Clevidence: The novel is set on the south shore of Long Island because that’s where I grew up and I feel that landscape in my bones, as part of me. As a child I ice skated on the frozen canals of the boatyard near our house, crabbed on the river, sailed on the Great South Bay.

Researching the novel, I recorded friends and neighbors of my grandparents reminiscing about what life had been like there in the ‘30s. Many of the details – the lone ice skater, the birds at Washington Lodge, the swallows nesting on the mast of the boat – came out of conversations with people who still live in the area. Other details, like the shipwrecks, and the beehive in the walls of the house, came from books of local history. I’m sorry neither of my grandparents lived to see this book published, because they both contributed to it immeasurably.

Q: Is there a character that you relate to the most?

Clevidence: I think I relate to each of them, though very differently: Clayton’s attachment to the landscape, Nancy’s optimism and also her restlessness, Roy’s diffidence, Mavis’s sweet tooth and her heartbreak, Scudder’s capacity for both loyalty and resentment.

Q: Many of the book’s characters make choices not necessarily because of something they want, but to prevent something they don’t want. Do you think this is often how we make choices for ourselves?

Clevidence: That’s an interesting question, and not something I’d thought about in those terms. But yes, absolutely. I think our choices spring from our fears at least as often as they do from our desires.

(Photo by Jennifer Clement)

(retrieved from Amazon Mon, 30 Sep 2013 13:26:10 -0400)

A fireworks factory explodes in a quiet seaside town. In the house on Salt Hay Road, Clay Poole is thrilled by the hole it's blown in everyday life. His older sister, Nancy, is more interested in the striking stranger who appears, dusted with ashes, in the explosion's aftermath. The Pooles--taken in as orphans by their mother's family--can't yet know how the bonds of their makeshift household will be tested and frayed. As their aunt searches for signs from God and their uncle begins an offbeat courtship, they are pulled toward two greater cataclysms: the legendary hurricane of 1938 and the encroaching war.… (more)

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