The Salt House is a beautifully observed and written memoir of a long summer's stay on the back shore of Cape Cod. Each chapter is like a prose poem, shedding increasing light on the challenge of finding "home" without the illusion of permanence, a quest based not on ownership but on affinity and familiarity with an area and its people. Cynthia Huntington expands her theme through images of the landscape, the shack, the new marriage.
The shack, named "Euphoria," is built as a house set on stilts above the sand, to take the wind under it. Only a partial shelter, it is inhabited for only one season a year, yet it endures. The outer cape has the feel of a place for migrants and drifters -- for birds and other wildlife, and for people such as artists, fishermen, and coast guardsmen. A place where "year-round" often means several addresses. Similarly, her narrative describes improvised, fragile beginnings: a new marriage, learning to be at home in the world, becoming intimate with the natural world, without the necessity of settling down. The Salt House shares a world that is less natural history or memoir than it is neighborhood exploration -- the process of learning a place and becoming native to it.