Book By My Bedside: Dark, Salt, Clear // Lamorna Ash

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Title: Dark, Salt, Clear: Life in a Cornish Fishing Village

Author: Lamorna Ash

What I Think So Far: I was immediately entranced by the premise of Dark, Salt, Clear after scrolling past an advertisement for the book on Instagram. In a season muffled with lockdowns and quarantines, reading about another place can be a nice escape, but coming across a piece of writing about a landscape that practically transports you is truly a gift.

London graduate student Lamorna Ash is on a quest to explore the Cornwall she visited as a child and the mysterious coves that gave her her namesake. However, once she arrives to stay with a friendly couple that have taken her in, she discovers a hearty fishing town and an industry that take grit and goodwill alike to survive. At first out of her depth, Ash makes friends with the locals and departs on weeks-long trips aboard fishing trawlers in an attempt to immerse herself in the community and its chief business: fish. Fighting to cope with seasickness, lack of wifi, and the gnarly process of learning how to gut fish at all hours of the night, Ash brings you along to the bunkrooms and pubs that are steeped in another way of life. Along the way she is also forced to confront herself, as she comes to grips with the resolve necessary to be away at sea, with nothing to tie you to the land, for days at a time.

This moving portrait of a small village fighting to hold onto its identity truly transports the readers and makes them feel as though they are strolling along lanes, inhaling the smell of fish or being pitched around on a fishing vessel. While Dark, Salt, Clear is non-fiction, the author weaves past, present, local folklore, and residents’ daily struggles together in such a way that at times it can be difficult to remember it isn’t magic.

Would I Recommend It? Absolutely, yes! Whether you’re looking to enjoy an escapist read or just indulge in learning something new whilst enjoying the ride, Dark, Salt, Clear offers readers a unique experience. Ash privileges readers a glimpse into a different way of life right here on Britain’s westernmost coast. Not only is the plot interesting, but the quality of writing is superb. Ash’s prose borders on poetic throughout the entire book making it even more addictive to read. This is the sort of book that you simultaneously don’t want to put down, but also want to pace yourself through so you can appreciate every wonderful detail.

Rating: 8/10

Words by Taylor Ogle

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