THE PLOT: ‘The Salt Path’ by Raynor Winn is a memoir about a married couple who walk the arduous 630-mile South West Coastal Path. Raynor and her husband, Moth, are in their fifties when they lose their beautiful farmhouse in Wales due to a legal battle. As they pack up their belongings with nowhere to go, Moth is also diagnosed with a degenerative illness. Homeless, they decide to spend the summer walking along England’s coastline. Armed with a cheap tent, thin sleeping bags and hardly any money, they battle over cliffs and through coves while trying to figure out how to put their lives back together.
RATING: This book made me cry several times within the first fifty pages, so you know that I loved it. It was a heartfelt, beautifully written memoir that’s filled with descriptions of nature that make you run outdoors while reading it. The most important thing (for me) is that it almost reads like a novel with a clear character arc and compelling central theme about what it means to be homeless. There is such stigma when someone does not have a house, but this book talks about the breadth and depth of why and how people end up with nowhere to live. From homelessness to ageism to nature writing to the devastation of England’s coastal communities to personal resilience, this is a complex and well-rounded book about being knocked down and finding the strength to get up again. This is truly a brilliant book, which I’m giving four and a half stars, and I would recommend it to everybody.
GOOD BITS: At the heart of this book is a love story between Raynor and her husband, Moth. As she’s forced to confront his illness and without the trappings of their previous lifestyle, Raynor is stripped bare – exposed by the rugged coastal path – and their love is the only thing that’s keeping them together. There are so many great things about this book from the descriptions of nature to communities they meet along the path, but it’s the love story that buries itself in your heart. (P.S. Please google Moth because he is incredibly hot – like, serious Pierce Brosnan vibes.)
NOT SO GOOD BITS: I felt like I could sense the editor’s input into the book. For example, some sections and lines felt like they were inserted to overtly demonstrate the internal change within the main character. This wasn’t a problem per se, but it just wasn’t always as smoothly done as it could have been. It was also a little repetitive so I found myself skipping over some sentences as I was keen to fast-forward to the next paragraph. However, these are very nit-picky issues to fit my review format so please don’t let me put you off!
OVERALL: This book has to be compared to the one and only ‘Wild’ by Cheryl Strayed. So, if you loved ‘Wild’ don’t walk – run to the bookshop and buy ‘The Salt Path’. However, I think this book will appeal to anyone who enjoys memoirs that feature personal resilience or nature and using the setting of the natural world as a character. I was lucky enough to read this book after a weekend in Penzance, after enjoying the beautiful Cornish countryside, and it has compounded my love for South West England.