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Summary

Bloomsbury presents Dark, Salt, Clear by Lamorna Ash, read by Lamorna Ash.

A BBC Radio 4 book of the week

A captivating, lyrical and deeply discerning portrait of life in the Cornish town of Newlyn, the largest working fishing port in Britain, from a brilliant debut writer

There is the Cornwall Lamorna Ash knew as a child – the idyllic, folklore-rich place where she spent her summer holidays. Then there is the Cornwall she discovers when, feeling increasingly dislocated in London, she moves to Newlyn, a fishing town near Land’s End. This Cornwall is messier and harder; it doesn’t seem like a place that would welcome strangers.

Before long, however, Lamorna finds herself on a week-long trawler trip with a crew of local fishermen, afforded a rare glimpse into their world, their warmth and their humour. Out on the water, miles from the coast, she learns how fishing requires you to confront who you are and what it is that tethers you to the land. But she also realises that this proud and compassionate community, sustained and defined by the sea for centuries, is under threat, living in the lengthening shadow cast by globalisation. 

An evocative journey of personal discovery replete with the poetry and deep history of our fishing communities, Dark, Salt, Clear confirms Lamorna Ash as a strikingly original new voice.

©2020 Lamorna Ash (P)2020 Bloomsbury Publishing Plc

Critic reviews

"Lamorna Ash evokes the vigour and complexity of the country’s westernmost fishing port with a love only a granite heart could resist. As Cornwall’s fishing and farming communities hold their breath to see whether leaving the EU will save or savage them, Dark, Salt, Clear arrives at the perfect time and should be cherished by natives, incomers and emmets alike." (Patrick Gale)

"Marks the birth of a new star of non-fiction." (William Dalrymple) 

"With the heart of a novelist and the clarity of an ethnographer, Lamorna Ash reveals the Cornish fishing community of Newlyn in all its tension and hardship and wild joy. Dark, Salt, Clear is a book of deep immersion and a stunning debut." (Philip Marsden)

What listeners say about Dark, Salt, Clear

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Beautiful book that I grew to love

For the first half of the book I was a little unconvinced. The author seems very young, and to begin with it reads almost like an account of a gap year - the excitement and naivity of a young person making their first foray on their own. But as the author / narrator learns more about the place and the people, she develops a more mature perspective and her wonderful insightful commentary is captivating. Towards the end I was hooked and enjoyed it immensely. It is a unique and very honest story with a very elegant narrative about the people of Newlyn.

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Not bad, but not very interesting.

I bought this intentionally to listen to in the car on route to/from Cornwall, so began with an open and optimistic view of what it might offer. My husband and I listened to the end (nearly 11 hours) but for the most part, we found its naive perspectives and prose like listening to the diary of a well-meaning teenager.... Maybe we're just too old for it!

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Unique and beautiful

Beautifully written and read, one of the best books that I've had the pleasure to immerse myself within.

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Beautiful

Beautiful, poetic and fascinating ✨ Definitely going to listen to it again one day!

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A joy from begining to end

Lamorna has written a gem. The Newlyn fishing community brought to life for us. Lives we may have only glimpsed on holiday, eating chips on a harbour wall, portrayed with a joy of the subject and will real affection. Tales of life, of fish guts in her hair, nuggets of amber and leopard seal pups. It will lift your spirits and I didn't want it to end. Great stuff!

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No longer pescatarian

The author, named after the Cornish town of her birth, heads home from her posh-girl life in London to find out about life at the sharp-end of trawling, and what it’s like for the guys who trawl. It’s part student diary, part slightly-troubled-girl trying to find herself. But her time she out on the trawlers with the real Cornish fishermen, the hours of gutting live fish and seasickness, are a gritty insight into tough reality of a not-at-all romantic, hand-to-mouth and probably not sustainable lifestyle.

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Fascinating Insight

Listening to this book you can almost taste the saltiness of the sea while you sit on the harbour wall or ride the ocean waves. You feel part of the community of Newlyn, almost as if its home.

A wonderfully told story of hardworking folk at the end of the line

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  • Kindle Customer
  • 09-11-20

Brilliant Writers Should Not Narrate

Many writers refuse to tell their stories aloud lest they assume the book has been written; rather than merely told. Ash writes evocative prose with a lilt and style. She is Melville come alive with character, depth, enchantment. She draws a picture that is colored with fauve, nuance and shades. However, even at 0.7 speed, she is incomprehensible to the American ear. What disaster when she snatches defeat from the joys of a first book. I had to cease at chapter four and await and great Audible reader, anyone to do justice to this magnificent work.

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  • Dorsey
  • 21-10-21

What an experience

Amazing to have this experience. I’m impressed at the ability to get approved to go out on the boats and the personal nerve to do it. Cool to have the author read it too.

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  • Moore
  • 10-03-21

Excellent

A truly engaging and intriguing read. Lamora’s narrative voice is strong and she effortlessly brings the reader along on her Cornish journey. Highly recommend!

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  • Common Man
  • 13-02-21

Lamorna’s Connection

This is a wonderfully conceived and articulated memoir. How the sea and location of memory adds richness into personal history is communicated beautifully by Ms Ash.
After listening/reading this work I am left with more questions than answers which I believe was the authors intent. Much enjoyed!

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  • ian
  • 02-01-21

This is a great memoir by a talented young writer

Lamorna Ash threw herself into the world of this fishing town. The book is poignant and insightful. Unlike some reviewers i found her accent and voice pleasant and easy to understand.

The one criticism I have is the terrible quality of the copy editing / fact checking. Every good writer deserves and needs someone to carefully go over their sentences and facts. Getting a few things wrong and throwing in some bad sentences is human. Failing to correct these things does a disservice to writer and readers. Lamorna Ash deserves better. Maybe for the paperback someone from Bloomsbury will try a little harder. It’s not brain surgery.