As Meat Loves Salt
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As Meat Loves Salt

3.89 of 5 stars 3.89  ·  rating details  ·  2,266 ratings  ·  368 reviews

A sensational tale of obsession and murder from a wonderful writer. ‘An outstanding novel, fresh and unusual [with] all the dirt, stink, rasp and flavour of the time.’ Daily Telegraph

‘Early in the English Civil War, a body is dredged from the pond of a Royalist estate. “As Meat Loves Salt” is the testament of Jacob Cullen – homicide and fugitive. Obsessed with the graceful

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Kindle Edition, 586 pages
Published (first published January 1st 2001)
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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Madeline
1. There are three things you should know about this book before you start it:
1a. IT IS BRILLIANT.
1b. EVERYONE IN IT IS EXTREMELY FUCKED UP.
1c. It's gonna wear you out.

2. As Meat Loves Salt is a dark, brutal, intelligent, and moving novel. If you could write Caravaggio down, it would be this book. (Interestingly, it has a lot in common with Jarman's movie too - and for reasons other than obsessive erotic fixations with beautiful blond men!) It is beautiful and frightening - terrifying, in some p...more
karen
this is the kind of book worth missing a subway stop for; and another book i have had for at least five years without picking up. how many hidden jewels do i have buried under stupid lurid family sagas?? but to be relevant: this is a real sink-your-teeth-into-it book, full of war and rage and betrayal and rough sex. but there are some tender things in it to, like umm... umm.... i dunno, a man who loves red-tinted glass?? yeah but he does some raping, so.. there are some rabbits... but they are m...more
Paul
This book will make you absurdly happy and sad. At one point, I read trembling with excitement, my heart racing and a smile stretched on my face. The day before I had sworn never to read it again. The thing about this book is that you will find yourself repulsed by the protagonist, you will hate him, and yet you are bound to him. And throughout it all you will play the part of the good angel on his shoulder, just hoping he will make the right choices. And when he does you feel happy enough to ex...more
Michelle, the Bookshelf Stalker  Queen of the Undead
I will never, ever, ever start a book late at night again (or until I forget that I said this). I literally read this book straight through the night, non fricking stop!

This damn author has this wicked ability to warp my numb ass right back in time so that I felt like I was there watching the scenes unfold instead of simply reading the scenes.

Oh and let me tell you the scenes I was watching were not of the fluffy bunny type. No, they were of the Ted Bundy type. Here is the most twisted revelati...more
Catie
This is one of those books that I just fell hard and fast for – there was no “warming up” or “getting to know you” period. The first line is one of my favorites this year:

”On the morning we dragged the pond for Patience White, I bent so far down trying to see beneath the surface that my own face peered up at me, twisted and frowning.”

It immediately sets the gruesome scene, and is the first peek into a dark mind. Maria McCann has such a gift for writing. I feel like I didn't so much read this boo...more
Whitaker
Ah yes, tortured gay romance. Exceedingly tortured gay romance. "Is there any other kind?" he asks, tongue firmly in cheek.

Actually, this was much better than that piece of tortured fluff Call Me by Your Name. For one thing, there's no masturbation-with-a-ripe-peach scene. Other than the sheer cheesiness of that, if you've ever held a squishy ripe peach in your hand, you'll know that the end result of that will be smeary peach pulp and not two neat halves that can be assembled back together lik...more
Laura
Time for a VERY belated review:

I am currently reading Ace, King, Knave by Maria McCann, and unfortunately I can't help but compare it to this first of her books that I read, which I'm not sure I will ever get over. I wish I had been a Goodreads member when I read it, so that I would have had a reason to write down my thoughts on paper. I remember it being on my mind for days, probably weeks after I finished it, and it still haunts me.

As well as being one of the best examples of realistic, gorge...more
Jerry
Finishing this book broke my heart. I honestly did not want it to end and when it did I cried. Maria McCann has written the most beautifully historically accurate story about two soldiers in Oliver Cromwell's army who quite unexpectedly fall in love. The story is at times savage and grisly in war and tender and heartbreaking at times. London in the 17th century was not a civilized place. McCann is a professor of history at Sommerset College in England and you get the full benefit of ther knowled...more
Maya Panika
My lord but Jacob Cullen is a disturbed and dangerous soul! - Something you should know before reading this book because he draws you into his world and makes you love him, hate him, weep for him by turns as he destroys everything he loves and - for what?

The lovers are two halves of a coin, light and dark, one as honest and easy to read as the other is secretive and Machiavellian – or are they? Because there’s a cruel twist that had me aching and an end that made me cry half the night (and that...more
Erastes
Jacob Cullen, a man of hasty temper and with an unstable temperment is forced, for reasons I won’t divulge, to flee the manor where he serves with his wife and his brother. Very soon he falls out with them and they desert him, leaving him to attempt to walk to Bristol. He falls in with The New Model Army (Cromwell’s Army) and joins them for a month or two in which time he becomes obsessed with Christopher Ferris, a troubled but basically good man.

This is a very clever book, in a lot of ways. It’...more
Richard
Short Review: Other reviewers have beautifully described the plot and the characterization, and if you read the reviews, you will see the passion this book elicits. This is the kind of novel that should win awards, but doesn't. For me, it was a completely engrossing experience. I found myself struggling to get through the work day so I could get home and continue reading. What a complex, bloody, beautiful, and terrifying read. McCann is a writer of great skill. Though the book is over 500 pages...more
Aleksandr Voinov
The writing is gorgeous, though I admit to skipping some colony-related bits post the 50%-mark. Jacob is a pretty disturbing character, and I'm still not sure whether he's driven insane by some religious guilt or meant to be a sociopath.
Red Haircrow
The reader is immediately drawn into the world of Jacob Cullen, a darkly charismatic former servant turned soldier whose sincere cravings for love and understanding are too often marred by his jealous and suspicious nature which creates a mystery the reader discovers in well-timed increments.

After seeming to escape a troubled past, he falls in love with a fellow warrior, who passionately accepts and teaches him of the love between men, yet their own obsessive behavior threatens to destory everyt...more
Elisa Rolle
I waited and waited before reading this book; I found all the possible excuses, like it was out of stock… and they released a paperback version! Like it was too expensive for the shipping cost… and they released an ebook version! It really seemed “they” wanted for me to read it… who they are? My conscience, my heart and my damn love for good historical novels that of course overcome the small voice that was saying, be careful, this book will haunt you. Oh, how much it was right! And unfortunatel...more
Karla (Mossy Love Grotto)
DNF at 52% because bored to tears. The writing's pretty, but that's about it. The plot was MIA and the pacing was shot to hell and back.
Alicja
rating: 4.5/5

I loved and hated this novel at the same time. The back cover says that this is a dark erotic (nothing too graphic and not that much either) tale but it really is so much more. McCann weaves the dark and violent with sweet and innocent brilliantly.

Born into nobility, Jacob Cullen was reduced to servant status after his father died. Years later he, and his two brothers, are living relatively comfortably as house servants. Jacob is also about to be wedded to a woman he loves. However...more
Blake Fraina
After reading it back in 2005, As Meat Loves Salt instantly became one of my favourite novels. All these years after its publication it still manages to be one of the most frequently recommended books on the internet’s gay fiction communities, so I thought it was high time I posted my thoughts.

On its surface, McCann’s novel is merely a love story, or perhaps a story of sexual obsession. And it will certainly reward anyone who chooses to read it on that level alone. It is, after all, an emotional...more
Sophie
This is an excellent book. A historical novel set during the English civil war, it's an absolutely engrossing read. It's also very, very dark, and the story really got under my skin. The two main characters are both appalling and appealing at the same time.

I picked it up after it was recommended on some m/m list, and indeed the relationship between the two men is at the heart of the book. But it is not a happy romance, no, far from it. But it was breathtaking to read - I don't recall ever readi...more
Denis
A very original, well written, exceptionally researched historical novel centered on an impossible gay love affair between two men that everything separates, except desire and love. It's violent and brutal, it's also about war and British society as much as a doomed love affair - it's totally believable, which cannot be said about a lot of historical novels, and it's heart-rending without falling into all the false romantic traps associated with such stories. The fact that the two protagonists i...more
Abigail
Even three weeks after reading it, I'm still not sure what I made of this book. The blurb on the back is misleading: it sets the book up as a fairly standard historical doorstop-novel, following the fortunes of a country lad separated from his fiancée and forced to find his way in the world. The novel is anything but typical. It's a psychological thriller, a tale of twisted erotic love and an accurate and fascinating evocation of one of the most interesting times in British history. Ultimately,...more
A.M. Riley
This review is a little spoiler-ey. And a tad annoyed. Don't read if you don't want to know.

Gorgeous historical, beautifully written which, nonetheless, felt angry towards homosexuals. Or, perhaps, men.

The main character is a brutal narcissist. I tried to find a metaphor to explain his behavior, thinking that perhaps he represented the old bourgeois?


****

****

SPOILERS

There is neither redemption or consolation for the characters or the reader. The main character is filled with remorse but who know...more
Ashley
It just occurred to me that, without necessarily meaning to, I find myself rereading this book once a year. I'll go months without thinking about it, without thinking about anything related to it, and then one day I'll be driving and see a tired-looking pedestrian and I'll be back there with Jacob on the Devizes road, parched of throat and sore of foot and so hungry he won't even think about food. Then nothing will do but read those scenes again, and before I know it I'm in Winchester, I'm in Lo...more
Caroline
Somehow this book had never registered on my radar and I probably would not have come across it had it not been for Good Reads and for a friend on here urging me to read it - to the extent of sending me his own copy. I finished it a little while ago but it's a book that doesn't let go of you easily.

I usually prefer reading non-fiction histories to historical fiction, unless it's been written by an author like Pat Barker who has done her research thoroughly. As Meat loves Salt is set during the...more
sage
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
April
Never have I been less at peace with a book than with As Meat Loves Salt. I feel kind of mocked. In a good way, of course.
As alluring as the glances between the men themselves, As Meat Loves Salt seems to thrive on lust and the dangers of passion. Written beautifully, McCann encompasses the feel of old England in prose so vivid it's like reading a true diary. It's not a particularly pleasant story, but one I'm glad I picked up and found hard to put down. I find it kind of hard to believe this i...more
Sara
I hated this book. I hated the characters, Jacob most of all. I thought the plot was sorely lacking. It wasn't until I reached the end of the book - the very last lines in particular - that I realized how powerful and nuanced much of it really was. Despite Jacob being a completely reprehensible bastard, I sympathized and even identified with his frantic, melodramatic suffering. I hated Ferris' saccharine angelic goodness in the first half of the book as well as his manipulation and selfishness i...more
Dreamer
5 stars. This excellent book put me in mind of a Thomas Hardy novel, a sense of doom overshadowing the characters. Written in the first person, Jacob is a flawed individual who fights the voice in his head leading him to do evil. This is set at the time of the english civil war in the 1640s and is extremely well researched. I was surprised at the amount of typos towards the end of the book, perhaps it was just my e-copy. This story stays with you and haunts your dreams, I would love a sequel!
description
'I...more
Scott
disturbing book. first person narritive that leads you to believe the main character is a bum-around-joe, but later becomes truly demented. I feel like a true first person narritive would clue in the reader immediately - meaning that if I were able to read the thoughts of a derranged killer, I would hopefully be able to "pick up" on it pretty quick. Maybe I overestimate my abilities...but lord help me if I can't..."there are some pretty twisted tickets in this town"
Anna
Lionel Shriver recommends this novel in the back of The Post-Birthday World, which was how I came across it. Apt, because, as in Shriver's novels, the reader has to contend with a narrator that one feels sympathy for when sympathy is the last thing their actions call for. As Meat Loves Salt is the story of Jacob Cullen: rapist, murderer, not very witty, not very bright. And still, right through all 532 densely worded pages, I felt for him.

Of all the books on Shriver's recommended list, this was...more
Robert
As Meat Loves Salt is a beautifully written book, about a man during the time of the English civil war who flees his life as a servant after having killed someone. The story follows him into and out of the army, and into a love affair that may seem quite surprising.

The book is beautifully written and authentic in tone, but also very gritty and quite sinister. The protagonist is a real anti-hero, a complete bastard in many ways, vengeful and violent. He is also plagued by guilt and fears (and som...more
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Maria McCann is an English novelist. She was born in Liverpool in 1956 and worked as a lecturer in English at Strode College, Street, Somerset since 1985, until starting work with Arden.

Her first novel, As Meat Loves Salt, was released in 2001. The story focuses on the relationship of two men, Jacob Cullen and Christopher Ferris, and is set during the English Civil War. They desert their posts in...more
More about Maria McCann...
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“I followed him up the stairs. I was a fornicator, of unnatural appetite, in thrall to an Atheist. I repeated the words in my head and tried to feel the shock of them, but they remained strange and cruel, far removed from Ferris and me. It was simpler to say I was in love.” 18 likes
“Speak to me, Jacob, do not play the tyrant.

Speak to me.”
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