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The Orphan of Salt Winds

3.67  ·  Rating details ·  1,370 ratings  ·  283 reviews
England, 1939. Ten-year-old Virginia Wrathmell arrives at Salt Winds, a secluded house on the edge of a marsh, to meet her adoptive parents—practical, dependable Clem and glamorous, mercurial Lorna. The marsh, with its deceptive tides, is a beautiful but threatening place. Virginia’s new parents’ marriage is full of secrets and tensions she doesn’t quite understand, and th ...more
Paperback, 293 pages
Published January 15th 2019 by Tin House Books (first published June 28th 2018)
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Average rating 3.67  · 
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 ·  1,370 ratings  ·  283 reviews

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Diane S ☔
Dec 08, 2018 rated it liked it
Shelves: 2018-read
Virginia arrives at Salt Winds when she is ten, adopted by Clem and Lorna. She and Clem form an immdeiate connection, her relationship with Lorna has a much slower start. Clem entertains her with both warnings and stories of the marsh. I loved the closeness between them, it added a heartwarming element to the story. The marsh also plays an integral part, it is where a strange occurrence will cause much heartache, and provide an element of mystery. There are strange things happening at Salt Wind ...more
Jennifer ~ TarHeelReader
In England, it’s 1939, and ten-year-old Virginia has been adopted by a couple who live in an isolated house on the edge of a marsh. Her new parents are Clem and Lorna, and what a pair they are. Their marriage is a temperamental one with dark secrets, and Virginia quickly becomes aware of this though she cannot fully understand.

Clem becomes an ally and bonds with Virginia, but otherwise, there’s a nosy neighbor and moody Lorna. One day a German fighter airman crashes into the marsh, and Clem res
Dec 16, 2018 rated it really liked it
I received an ARC of this book for free from the publisher (Tin House Books) in exchange for an honest review.

I give this book 3.5 stars which rounds up to 4.

This was an incredibly atmospheric read. The setting, particularly the marsh, had a life of its own. The author did a fabulous job describing the setting which helped set the tone and the mood for the novel.

As for the story itself, I was into it, but I wasn’t thrilled by it. I think it was because I had such high expectations going in. O
Jul 04, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Somehow it doesn’t seem quite right that I’ve been reading Call of the Curlew sitting in my garden in the bright sunshine.  The atmosphere of the book is such that it seems more suited to misty autumn nights, with the rain lashing down outside and the wind rattling the window panes.  Throw in some creaking floorboards, some footsteps in the attic and your reading experience would be complete.

Told in chapters that alternate between 2015 and the early years of the Second World War, Call of the Cur
Bill Kupersmith
The Orphan of Salt Winds was previously published in England as Call of the Curlew, a title that also plays a role in the story itself. Following the rule for literary scholars and bibliographers, I shall refer to the book by its original title. I wondered what other changes the American editors introduced to justify their presence, but it’s likely that the ‘flashlight” that plays rather a role in the story was really a “torch” and that the odious Mr. Deering’s Austin 12 had a “bonnet,” not a “h ...more
Nov 25, 2019 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: marshes-and-fens
3.5 stars
I seem to be reading a number of books at the moment set in the marshes and fens of the East of England and this one also fits that bill. The cover, by the way, is quite arresting. The sense of place here is important and the portrait of the marsh and its surrounds is central to the mood of the book. It is the story of Victoria Wrathmell who is an orphan. She is adopted by Lorna and Clem in 1939 at the age of ten. They live at Salt Winds, a house on the edge of Tollbury Marsh in Essex (
Bonnie Brody
Dec 10, 2018 rated it it was ok

I saw Eowyn Ivey's blurb on the cover of this book and, since I loved her novel 'The Snow Child', I thought I'd take a chance. I was very disappointed however, because though the book was atmospheric and the setting was bleak, the story was bland, slow and boring. It goes back and forth in time from pre-World War II and the World War II era to the present.

The book opens with Virginia, age 86, finally having found a sign that tells her it is time to take her life. The sign is the skull of a Curle
In 1939 ten-year-old Virginia is adopted by Clem and Lorna. Virginia and Clem soon fall in sync with their unfamiliar role as father and daughter. Her world is quickly upended when Clem fails to return home after he sets out towards the marsh scouting for a downed German fighter plane. Traveling from past to present, this atmospheric and beautifully told tale exquisitely captures the scents, sights, and mood of an English marsh. Bewitching, hypnotic, and simply sublime. Perfect for book clubs.
Joanna Smith
Jul 27, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I had a relaxing self-care day today and read #callofthecurlew and what a gem of a book it was! Great characters, fantastic plot, a dual timeline from present-day to World War II and the writing was beautifully paced and compelling. A haunting, well-written novel. Definitely five stars! ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
Kim Friant
Aug 12, 2019 rated it really liked it
4 Stars—That description is amazing, is it not?? I was so excited to pick this up, we ended up making it our neighborhood book club pick for the month. The cover is also beautiful: simplistic and appropriate for the story. Brooks did a great job of keeping me on the hook. Just when she was about to give up some new info, the chapter ended and the timeline changed and I had to wait for another chapter to go by. The setting was perfect; the marsh dark and mysterious. The characters were realistic ...more
Dec 22, 2018 rated it it was ok
2.5 stars I have to admit that I was a little let down with this one. It had real promise of being a Gothic English tale, but fell flat. It did have a bit of the atmospheric feel of the marsh, but the story itself was a bit bland. I would have liked for Virginia to be a little more developed. This is a dual timeline and the present storyline seemed a bit thrown together - we get a "mysterious child" showing up on Virginia's doorstep who I don't think really added anything to the story. Overall, ...more
I bought this book solely on the beauty of its cover. I knew nothing else about it apart from the information contained within the short blurb on the back, which made it sound intriguing enough. And it was intriguing, for the most part. The writing style was assured. The jumps between 2015 and the time of the Second World War were well handled. It had a couple of interesting characters. It had a fairly strong sense of time and place. It had some gothic undertones. It was atmospheric. In other wo ...more
Megan C.
Jan 03, 2019 rated it really liked it
Loved this creepily atmospheric novel! If you love cinematic, engrossing tales that are perfect for reading by a fire, this one is for you. I'd recommend this to fans of Bitter Orange and Rebecca.
Joanna Park
Jun 25, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
There’s nothing I like better than a dual timeline mystery and Call Of The Curlew is definitely one of the best I have read.

The book is very atmospheric with the descriptions of the bleak, eerie marshes adding to the feeling that anything could happen. The bleakness seems to creep in side the house and affect the people living there, making them act very strangely at times.

The reader is aware almost from the start that something is not quite right with the house and the situation but is largely
Penny (Literary Hoarders)
Truly, a 3.5 star book.

Atmospheric at times, too loose in others and I felt the switches from 1941 to 2015 were too quick, so did not allow for real meaty development of the suspense or of the story - of Virginia's story and very loose and not a strong sense to the "What happens next is something Virginia will regret for the next seventy-five years, and which will change the whole course of her life."
Because, truly, it doesn't happen "next" and there isn't a strong development of changing the
Aug 09, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
What a beautiful book - both inside and out this is a little masterpiece and something which will have a special place on my bookshelves.

It tells the story of Virginia, an orphan who was adopted by a couple who lived in a big old house on the marshes. The book gives us a mystery - why does 86 year-old Virginia think she will meet her death on the marshes and what is the sign that tells her now is the time? The story is then told in alternating now and then chapters to great effect, giving us sus
Mary McBride
Jan 30, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I loved this novel.
Reminded me so much of Bronte and DuMaurier.
Beautifully written story of a young orphan adopted by a couple in the marshlands of England in the 1940's.
The story is narrated by Virginia as a young girl and then in her eighties.
Great characters and a setting that takes on a life of its own.
What a delightful release from Tin House.
Jaclyn (sixminutesforme)
Dec 11, 2018 rated it really liked it

I devoured the majority of this novel in one sitting, and was utterly hooked very early in!

Set on an a marsh in England, this was super atmospheric and chilling. We’re following an historic timeline during World War Two in which young orphan Virginia comes to live at Salt Winds with Clem and Lorna. The narrative picks up after a German plane crashes in the marsh, and alternating with this pacy series of events is a narrative 75 years later following Virginia as she again is drawn to the marsh. T
Dec 16, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: books-i-own, 2018
3.5-4 stars
Stephanie Stennett
Aug 28, 2018 rated it it was amazing
This wasn't perfect, so 4.5 stars if I could rate with halves, but I cannot, so I'm rounding up.
Drop quotes compare it to Jane Eyre, but I definitely see a lot more Wuthering Heights here. Not exactly Cathy/Heathcliff dynamic but certain other similarities.
Extremely good sense of place. Her writing is "clean," I'd say. Evocative without being flowery or overworked. Could have moved a little more quickly, I suppose, for modern readers, but if you've read JE and WH, this will be a doddle.
I shou
Great book - review to follow as part of blog tour.
Beautifully written but very slow and doesn't really come to anything at the end. A disappointing finish.
Abby Slater- Fairbrother
Call Of The Curlew is another novel released this year with phenomenal characterisation. The character of Virginia Wrathmell slowly captivates your heart, as you turn the pages. It is quite tricky to explain, as we don’t just meet the 86yr old Virginia, but we meet her at 11yrs old and watch her come of age in difficult circumstances.

The novel opens with Virginia in the present day. It is New Years Eve and she is waiting for a sign. A sign of her death…… on the marsh. When it arrives in the unus
Jul 05, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Dark, tense, and with a haunting atmosphere from beginning to end, this dual timeline novel really grabs a hold of you and sucks you into the drama.

When Virginia Wrathmell goes to live with Clem and his wife Lorna in 1939, she immediately connects with her new father and struggles to feel the same way about Lorna. And then there is the unusual atmosphere that lingers over the marshland and the place that will be her home, Salt Winds. This place and its inhabitants oozes secrets and pain as Virgi
Mary Lins
Dec 31, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: complete
When I turned the (satisfying) last page of Elizabeth Brooks’ novel, “The Orphan if Salt Winds”, I knew I’d be giving it all the stars: it is beautifully written, with a solid plot, suspense, interesting characters, and a distinctive setting that is integral to the mood and tone of the story. What else do you need in a great weekend read?!

The novel begins auspiciously gothic: 1939 English countryside, ten-year-old Virginia, an orphan from a draconian orphanage, comes to a huge ancient house cal
I wanted to love this book, but it was so unspeakably sad. Written with a light touch - murmured conversations, spare movements, half-glances, moments of unease - that makes it seem like a much gentler novel than it really is, filled as it is with meaning "about sacrifice, the urge to belong, and revenge," as the novelist Claire Fuller describes it on the dust jacket. I did love the historical time period (World War II is in the background, but this is not a war novel) and the remote, unsettling ...more
Eleni Flores
Jun 07, 2020 rated it it was ok
Shelves: 2020
I don't have much to say on this book, simply because not much happened in it. I read it for a book club and it didn't provide much in terms of discussion. None of the characters were really likable, the plot moved slowly, and the writing was fine but didn't do anything to pick up the slack. The whole story was driving toward one big plot point that ended up falling very, very flat. I'd be interested to hear from the people who did like this book (it has a 4-star rating on Amazon) because it jus ...more
Dec 04, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: loved
Virginia Wrathmell returns to Salt Winds 75 years later and not much has changed. The house she once called “home” is still secluded and the dreadful memories are ever-so-present. Something about this night is different though. Virginia knows the end is near, after all she’s waited most of her life for the day to arrive. When she finds the skull of a dead curlew at her doorstep, she knows it is not a coincidence. The time has come!
The story is a coming-of-age story about an orphaned girl, adopte
Feb 02, 2019 rated it it was ok
Well, that was a disappointment. The book had all the possibilities to be a lovely story but it,just didn't hit the mark for me. It was somewhat atmospheric as advertised but even that didn't quite make it. It was as if everything, the atmosphere, the characters, the 1940s story, even the 2015 story just weren't developed enough. It was,none of the things it was advertised as: gothic, gripping, haunting or unforgettable.
Sharyn Berg
Sep 16, 2018 rated it it was amazing
This book was a two day-er, it would’ve been a one day-er, if life hadn’t interceded. I just could not put it down. I felt that this was a well planned out, well written, study of two life-changing periods in Virginia’s life. The narrator describes life from the time 10 year old Virginia is adopted and at the same time, tells of her life as an 85-year-old woman. Nothing is mentioned of her life before coming to Salt Winds and not much is mentioned about her life between the ages of 12 and 85. Pe ...more
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