NEW ON THE SHELF

“The Salt Path.” By Raynor Winn. Penguin. 270 pages. $17. “The Salt Path” begins in the dark interior of a cramped closet and ends in bright sunlight on a cliff above the sea. Taken together, the opening and closing scenes are symbolic of what this thoughtful memoir is about: coming out of darkness into light, moving from despair to serenity. Raynor Winn and her husband, Moth Walker, have been together since college. They bought a falling-down farm in Wales and built it back up, stone by stone. They reared their children there, raised sheep and chickens, and took in vacationers to make money. Then, in one fell swoop, it was gone. A bad investment and a friend’s treachery caused them to lose their house, farm and livelihood. A judge gave them five days to move. The next day brought even more dire news. Moth consulted a doctor and learned he had an incurable degenerative disease. On their last day in the home – bailiffs pounding on the door, the couple cowering in a closet, not ready to relinquish their life – Raynor suddenly said, “We could just walk.” Why not “put one foot in front of the other and just follow the map?” Winn writes. They loaded up their backpacks and headed out on England’s rugged South West Coast Path.

 


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