“If you are near the sea, you hear it. The sea is loud, and it is always. The sound of its waves never stop their shushing and cracking on shingle and sand. The sea is eternally percussive, a natural heartbeat. Children are taught to listen out for the sound with a conch held up to the ear.”
A lyrical exploration of the sea, how it inspires art, music and literature and how it connects us, from the Daily Telegraph’s poetry critic
Charlotte Runcie has always felt pulled to the sea, lured by its soothing, calming qualities but also enlivened and inspired by its salty wildness. When she loses her beloved grandmother, and becomes pregnant with her first child, she feels its pull even more intensely.
In Salt On Your Tongue Charlotte explores what the sea means to us, and particularly what it has meant to women through the ages. This book is a walk on the beach with Turner, with Shakespeare, with the Romantic Poets and shanty-singers. It’s an ode to our oceans – to the sailors who brave their treacherous waters, to the women who lost their loved ones to the waves, to the creatures that dwell in their depths, to beach combers, swimmers, seabirds and mermaids.
In mesmerising prose, Charlotte Runcie shows how the sea has inspired, fascinated and terrified us, and how she herself fell in love with the deep blue. Navigating through ancient Greek myths, poetry, shipwrecks and Scottish folktales, Salt On Your Tongue is about how the wild untameable waves can help us understand what it means to be human.
“This motherhood memoir-cum-nature journal about the connection between women and the sea is bracing and poetic … Throughout, her prose is defined by cool confidence and unshowy clarity, allowing its more poetic observations, of which there are plenty, to glimmer like glass pebbles … Just like her favourite kind of blustery beach, it’s strewn with pocketable treasures”
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“Women and water are the subjects of Charlotte Runcie’s seductive history … Intoxicating … Runcie is a fine guiding star: wise, curious, sensitive to language and landscape … At its best her writing hauntingly captures the whispered wave and wash of the sea”
“An ode to the ocean, and the generations of women drawn to the waves or left waiting on the shore … A wide, eclectic cast of characters wash in and out on the tide of her poetic prose”
“A seductive, estuarine merging of personal memoir and scholarly reportage … Runcie has a beachcomber’s mind and a poet’s turn of phrase”
“A very beautiful book about myth and motherhood – a memoir that intertwines effortlessly and poetically with tales of the sea. Salt On Your Tongue has a rare magic to it”
Sophie Mackintosh, Booker-longlisted Author Of The Water Cure
Charlotte Runcie is the Daily Telegraph’s radio columnist and arts writer. For several years she lived and worked in Edinburgh, where she ran a folk music choir, and she now lives in the Scottish Borders. She has a secret past as a poet, having been a Foyle Young Poet of the Year with a pamphlet published by tall-lighthouse. Salt On Your Tongue is her first book.
@charlotteruncie | charlotteruncie.com