Young Anna Stockton’s childhood ends when she is sent to work for a well-to-do family. Her employers’ tragedy ends that job, but not before Anna has been exposed to another world where books abound, knowledge is prized, and the love between a husband and wife is tender and unabashed. Anna is never the same.
Back home in Faith, North Carolina, she meets John Bayley, a twice-widowed farmer, a man driven to prove himself on more than one level. John knows a good thing when he sees it and sets out to win Anna. Although ultimately she gives in to her passion for John, Anna knows she could be giving up her chance at the kind of fulfillment she needs.
At first glance, Anna might seem to be an ordinary North Carolina farmer’s wife near the turn of the last century, only prettier. Her hands are toughened from hard work; her countenance is stern yet compassionate. She sacrifices for the good of her children. But there is much more. Anna possesses a depth that her peers seem to lack — a depth witnessed by a precious few of those who know her. She thinks more, understands profoundly, and secretly longs for what might have been had she not married. She incurs John’s displeasure and risks ostracism by abandoning the church. John occasionally glimpses his wife’s mysterious core, and he both fears and resents what he does not understand.
Salt is a fascinating study of characters removed from us as much by mindset as by years. Still, both Anna and John possess the flaws and the virtues that render their struggles timeless.