Salt A Novel

Isabel Zuber




Trade Paperback

360 Pages



Request Desk Copy Request Exam Copy
In this debut novel, poet Isabel Zuber deftly traces the joys and the sorrows of a passionate but troubled marriage in Appalachia at the turn of the last century.

Anna Stockton was a bright and imaginative child, reveling in a rare wild freedom in the mountains of western North Carolina. As a young woman possessed by romantic yearnings and a great love of books, she hungers for a new kind of life for herself. John Bayley is a hard-driven hill farmer who carries with him the pain of the early death of his father and the loss of two previous wives. When a sudden encounter brings the two together, Anna and John marry into a difficult and passionate union, one that mirrors the changing, sometimes violent, and often haunted times in which they live.

Turning her eye upon the members of a small rural community, Isabel Zuber weaves together the lives of John and Anna's family and friends in a deeply moving account of exultation and despair, of grief and ghosts. A novel worthy of the element that gives it its name—an emblem of work and sacrifice as well as of blessing and preservation—Salt is entrancing, piercingly honest fiction that gazes deeply into the human heart and yields the wisdom that such scrutiny brings.


Praise for Salt

"[A] lovely novel . . . Isabel Zuber invents a world where the king is not mankind but the earth itself."—The Washington Book World

"Zuber is a poet, and that gift is evident in this first novel, a moving story that is distinguished by her remarkable rhythms and eye for detail."—St. Petersburg Times

"From the moment she steps into print and into our reading minds, [Anna] is as real as your hand, your reading glasses . . . You weep, losing her, closing the book . . . Salt . . . is a whopping whale of a novel . . . a modern epic of an Appalachian novel, in a Middlemarch/George Eliot kind of style."—The News & Observer (Raleigh)

"Zuber weaves her tale with the grace and lyricism of the poet she is. Her intricate narrative flows as smoothly as the ivory silk wedding dress Anna packs away, never to wear again. Her words capture the aura of the Appalachian landscape, the moodiness of its weather, and the supernatural beauty of its days and nights."—Winston-Salem Journal

"A beautiful first novel . . . [Zuber writes] with an eye for detail of everyday life that is extraordinary . . . an honest and powerful book."—The Charlotte Observer

"Salt is the story of the many roots and branches of a woman's life, a powerful story with the savor of wit and lustiness, of earth and loyalty, and the romance of time. This novel of marriage reaches across time and brings to life the many voices of a whole family connection, a whole community, and impact one special woman can make."—Robert Morgan

"Genuine through and through—authoritative even—and it is beautifully, often brilliantly, done. It deserves to be showered with prizes."—Fred Chappell, author of Farewell, I'm Bound to Leave You

"Salt is a big, beautiful book. There is something very, very special about this novel, something almost indefinable, like Kristin Lavrandsdotter. I loved reading it."—Lee Smith

"Isabel Zuber has lent her poetic eye to the past and given us a lovely, moving tale. The world she has resurrected is so real it seems I might walk into it, just on t he other side of a forgotten door."—Haven Kimmel, author of A Girl Named Zippy

"The lyric cadences of Zuber's prose and her tender evocation of the landscape and atmosphere of her native region have much to do with the emotional richness of her touching account of one woman's inner awakening."—Publishers Weekly

Reviews from Goodreads



Read an Excerpt

FAITH, 1932The moles, he noticed, had made a progress and left ridges between the graves, even tunneled right over them. His grandfather would have been out with castor beans and poisons, his father with his steel trap jammed down above the little animal runs, set and poised to fall like a miniature portcullis, spiking the unwary. Roland smiled. It amused him to think that in this case the moles were having the last say in the matter.Other than the mole runs, all was in order in the cemetery, grass cut, weeds pulled, markers upright. All that could be done was done. He could go. His mother
Read the full excerpt


  • Isabel Zuber

  • Isabel Zuber is the author of two collections of poetry, Oriflamb and Winter's Exile. She lives in Winston-Salem, North Carolina.