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Journal

WellRead April Selection:Thirst for Salt by Madelaine Lucas

WellRead April Selection:Thirst for Salt by Madelaine Lucas

Dear reader,

Thirst for Salt takes place in a fictional town called Sailors Beach, but it is based on a place very close to my heart: the Jervis Bay area on the South Coast of NSW, where I spent time on holidays when I was growing up. After I moved to New York in 2015, the things I missed about Australia crystallised with distance, and it was this landscape I found myself longing for most. The smell of eucalyptus after rain and salt on the breeze, the raucous call of morning birds, the rough wild beauty of the Pacific Ocean, which always seemed like the cure for any kind of heartache. I began to write my way back there: writing as an act of homecoming.

I was born in Melbourne and raised in Sydney, my early years further split between my father’s house and my mother’s. These days I live in Brooklyn with my husband and our rescue dog. Like my narrator, I have learned that we are as much made of what we long for, what we lack, as what we have to hold. As Marilynne Robinson wrote in her first novel, Housekeeping, ‘To crave and to have are as like as a thing and it’s shadow.’

When I’m asked to describe what Thirst for Salt is about, I often say simply, ‘it’s a love story’, because I believe the best love stories—like The Lover by Marguerite Duras or Cleanness by Garth Greenwell—teach us something about what it means to be alive. An early inspiration came from thinking about the influence of the stories we tell when we talk about love, including the stories we inherit from our parents. For that reason, I wanted the novel to show different kinds of love outside the narrator’s formative affair with Jude, the older man she meets the summer she turns twenty-four.

So, in these pages you’ll also read about a complicated bond between a mother and daughter, the almost-maternal feelings one can have towards a younger sibling, and the love of a good dog—which might be the closest any of us can get to a love that feels unconditional. I am so thrilled to share my first novel with you.

Madelaine Lucas

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