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As Meat Loves Salt

3.88  ·  Rating Details  ·  3,033 Ratings  ·  447 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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(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
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mark monday
Mar 13, 2016 mark monday rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to mark by: Davytron
O Wrath, your tang is surely the most spicy and pungent of all the Seven Deadly Sins! your flavor is compelling, so exciting and satisfying... it gives purpose and heat and righteousness all at once. never mind the taste of ashes left in the mouth after the meal is over; that is soon forgotten in the yearning to again consume the dish and recapture its flavor once more.

As Meat Loves Salt is many things: a thrilling historical novel of the 17th century English revolution; a darkly-hued psychodram
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karen
Jan 24, 2010 karen rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
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
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Paul
Sep 26, 2007 Paul rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Marita
Apr 27, 2016 Marita rated it really liked it
Oh my gosh; it is hard to believe that this well researched story is a debut novel.

The anti-hero of this novel spends most of his life struggling with his inner self. At the start of the novel Jacob Cullen seems a perfectly ordinary young man about to marry his sweetheart, and then wham!

In the next part of the novel Jacob is fighting in the English Civil War on the side of the Roundheads. It is here that Jacob meets the love of his life and where we get to know him better. A large muscular man,
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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
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Laura
Jun 13, 2015 Laura rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
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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
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Jerry
Apr 04, 2008 Jerry rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
May 27, 2009 Maya Panika rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
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Sofia
Apr 27, 2015 Sofia rated it liked it
Shelves: historical

I was aware that the book was making me sad whilst I was reading it but I realised just how much when at the moment of finishing it I felt like a load had been lifted off my chest, I felt lighter, a ray of light touching me at the thought that I did not have to touch that world again. A world where hope does not exist. Where Ms McCann makes sure that no ray of sunshine is left.

This story left me questioning what I've just read that is what I will take with me. A story unreliably told by Jacob so
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Erastes
May 21, 2010 Erastes rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: gay-historical
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’
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Richard
Aug 30, 2013 Richard rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Red Haircrow
Mar 18, 2011 Red Haircrow rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
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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.
Karla
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.
Lisa
This was my first experience of Maria McCann's work and what an experience it was! This book is just incredible! Set against the backdrop of the English Civil War, it's got murder, madness, an obsessive yet passionate relationship between two very different men and a dangerous yet strangely charismatic antihero who could easily rival Heathcliff. Sound intriguing? It is!

McCann is a very talented writer as she brings the 17th century vividly to life yet never overloads you with details and descrip
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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
Maya
May 07, 2015 Maya added it
Shelves: historical

Violent love eats up what it does love, and is mere appetite.


If someone had asked me ten days ago (when I finished reading) if they should read this book, I’m pretty sure my answer would have been: no. Because, for me, what it came down to was that this book was almost 600 pages of misery, torment, and gloom which eventually led to an ending that left me not only emotionally drained but in angry tears. I can count on my fingers the moments the two main characters experienced happiness or joy,
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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
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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
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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
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
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!
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Izzy
Sep 11, 2015 Izzy rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Izzy by: mark monday
It’s been a long time since I’ve stayed up past my bedtime to finish the last few chapters of a book, let alone a book of the densely written historical fiction variety.

It’s also been a long time since anything I’ve read affected me so much—the last few pages brought on a curious kind of devastation I’ve yet to process, and the hundreds that came before dragged me through the muck and mire, the highs and lows and everything in between, that usually foreshadow such devastation.

I started this on A
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Blake Fraina
Sep 09, 2011 Blake Fraina rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
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Sophie
Nov 08, 2009 Sophie rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
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Aubrey
3.5/5
Well, I have to give it some credit, for the excruciatingly accurate portrayal of the time period, as well as the last fifty pages that sped past like a fevered nightmare. And also the unconventional ending. But damn. Jacob just doesn't know when to stop. His violence is so inherent it's almost lost between the lines if you read too quickly; he shifts from straightforward observation to murderous imaginings and back again in the blink of an eye. At least the prose was direct and not too col
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Denis
Dec 01, 2008 Denis rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
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BR - As Meat Loves Salt - Maya, Vivian, Sofia on 18th April 2015 114 45 Apr 27, 2015 11:39AM  
2015 Reading Chal...: As Meat Loves Salt by Maria McCann 4 40 Jan 03, 2015 06:53AM  
  • The Charioteer
  • Brethren (Raised by Wolves, #1)
  • Junction X
  • Purgatory: A Novel of the Civil War
  • Ransom (Royal Navy, #1)
  • Whistling in the Dark
  • The Catch Trap
  • The God in Flight
  • Counterpoint: Dylan's Story
  • False Colors
  • Gaywyck
  • Lover's Knot
  • Bonds of Earth
  • The Boy I Love (The Boy I Love Trilogy, #1)
  • The Carnivorous Lamb
  • The Master of Seacliff
  • While England Sleeps
  • The Lonely War
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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
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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.” 22 likes
“I wondered at him, so wise and so foolish, to have lived with me all these months and not know that the worst storms break inside a man.” 13 likes
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