If you’re anything like me and wholeheartedly over the plethora of productivity porn clogging up your socials, then I’ve got some good news.
Get this book and stay in bed.
I don’t tend to pick up overt romance novels. To my mind, what use is fictionalised romance when the simple heartache of everyday life brings enough drama to existence?
In this case though, a copy of Salt on my Skin was forced into my hand by my aforementioned book-wielding friend as I went to purchase a different book at the bookstore.
Have you read this? she asked excitedly. You will love it!
And from the moment I turned its first pages, I knew she was right.
For this is no benign love story, limp with cliche and carry on. This is most certainly not a bland love story of unrequited love or furtive love or even the greatest love of all.
This is a love story resplendent in its simplicity. A story stoic in its sentiment and yet so full of deep and devastating love.
You may not be surprised when I tell you this book has a French author. Her name is Benoîte Groult and she published this book in the late 1980s, which continued to be an inappropriate for women to discuss their experiences of sex and desire.
In her book, Groult details the unlikely thirty-year love affair of George and Gauvin. George is every bit the bourgeois Parisian intellect who holidays in a seaside town of Brittany as a young girl. Gauvin has all the characteristics of an unpretentious working-class average Joe, albiet a ruggedly attractive one.
Their romantic interludes take place among the goings on of their ‘real lives’, sometimes many years between. Gauvin, who spends many months at sea as a fisherman, and George, who’s academic pursuits take her all over the world, are often divided by much more than geographic distance.
Without casting a single sanctimonious glare, the author draws us in to experience the wonder of this love unfolding, unmarred by the baggage of everyday expectation. Instead, we are allowed to simply bear witness to an unbridled, unwavering passion that remains undimmed as the decades pass.
This book is an ode to the beauty of ageing, of lust against the odds, of conviction against logic and the power of hanging on to the moments that mean something to you. In a world full of no’s and don’t and no touching, this book will whisk you away from the madness and hold you tight in an intoxicating world of romance and far-flung adventure. You won’t want to leave.
I would happily quote from the 50+ pages I have turned up at the bottom corner of as a signal of my adoration, but I believe you would be better served by discovering these magical tracts of perfectly formed prose for yourself. It certainly isn’t all heavy breathing and crotch fumbling but rather tender and sometimes hilarious recounting of human intimacy, both sexual and intellectual.
And when this book finally does break your heart, and it will, I suggest you ease your heartache with a generous pour of something silky and delicious. In my case, a glass of Mayer’s 2018 Chardonnay worked a treat. With a charming minerality and a slight sting of acid, you will reach for the bottle for your second glass.
As one who previously belonged to the ABC (Anything-but-chardonnay) club, I am a recent convert to the charms of this classic but uncool grape.
Chardonnay is the most planted white variety in Australia. Hailing from France’s Burgundy region, Chardonnay cuttings found their way to Australian soil in the 1830s where they thrived thanks to their disease resistance, hardy temperament and site adaptability.
Chardonnay accounts for more than half of Australia’s white wine production and thrives in a range of climates. Wherever it grows, it is known for reflecting its sense of place.
In a delightful coincidence, a little research on the winemaker of this particular Chardonnay, Mr Mayer, reveals a heavily-beared man who describes himself in his own words as “Eccentric; On the edge; Hairy; Unintelligible.”
Such words would also aptly describe the illustrious object of our George’s desire, Gauvin himself.
Cut yourself loose from the constant chatter. Let some light in. You need a French love story in your life and you need it now. Get this book, pour yourself a wine and stay in bed. Trust me x