The Salt House

A Summer on the Dunes of Cape Cod

Cynthia Huntington

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.

Paper: $19.95 | E-book: $14.99
ISBN-13: 9781584652946
Pages: 199 | Size: 6 in. x 9 in.
Date Published: February 1, 2003


  • Like a treasure from the sea, this memoir is polished, luminous and elemental.

    Publishers Weekly
  • Airy and elemental as epigrammatic poetry . . . Lucky Huntington to have lived in such a place, enviable Huntington to have applied so keenly the exigent art of seeing.

    Kirkus Reviews
  • A beautiful, lyrical account . . . the writing is clear, intelligent, and full of wonder, awe, and appreciation for life's simplicity and the power of nature.

  • Perfect all-season reading for nature enthusiasts and writers and especially warm reading for cold winter nights by the fire.

    Library Journal
  • The Salt House is a quiet, calming, contemplative book for people who love the seashore and long to see it through the mind's eye of an accomplished and highly sensitive writer.

    Boston Herald
  • In an era of SUVs scouring the land, it's good to read a book about the rewards that come on foot, through careful observation, a reminder that the only ownership is attention . . . In The Salt House, Huntington walks the same square mile of dunes over and over again and finds the world there. She gives us what she discovers, like beach wrack, each observation carefully picked and weighed, kept in the pocket for when we need it most.

    San Francisco Chronicle
  • Cynthia Huntington's stunning memoir brings us directly into the hard beauty of Cape Cod's easternmost beaches and dunes . . . [she] evokes the Cape's landscape and shores in language remarkable for its concision and grace . . . The Salt House is a wonderful book that beautifully reveals a part of New England that many readers might think they already know. It should go a long way to open this part of the country to still more ecocritical consideration.

  • Cynthia Huntington is a terrific writer, and The Salt House is a beautiful book -- luminous and keenly observed.

    Annie Dillard
  • From Thoreau to Annie Dillard, the fantastic dunescape of the Provincelands has inspired some of America's best writers, but in The Salt House it has found a new and worthy celebrant. I love Cynthia Huntington's writing for its intelligent lyricism and quicksilver sensibility, for its sympathy with the world's hungers and uncertainties, for its unexpected humor and deep seriousness, and above all for a rare generosity of spirit. The Salt House, her first prose narrative, has all these in full measure.

    Robert Finch

About the Author

Cynthia Huntington

Cynthia Huntington is an American poet, memoirist and a professor of English and Creative Writing at Dartmouth College. In 2004 she was named Poet Laureate of New Hampshire.

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