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Book Review: Himalayan Pink Salt By Diane McCurdy


Book Review: Himalayan Pink Salt

By Diane McCurdy

This book was a random recommendation by a friend. I hadn’t seen it praised in any magazines articles. It hadn’t popped up on any bestseller lists. Probably I was intrigued by the title, Himalayan Pink Salt. It turned out to a hidden gem.

Most of the critical information about the author, Camilla Baresani, was in Italian so it was painful plowing through it in order to get a feel for her status and a consensus of her style. She has written 14 books and has won many literary prizes in her native Italy while working for two prestigious newspapers where part of her job is the food and wine columnist. After reading her book, I’m sorry I missed her lecture this February in San Francisco. Baresani’s premise reminded me of Malcolm Gladwell’s book Blink which posits the theory that one small decision can dramatically and irrevocably change the course of ones life. In this case, it is the heroine’s quest for the aforementioned condiment.

By the third of fourth page the main character, Giada, has been abducted by thugs. Most of the rest of the story unfolds in her head as she endures tortuous conditions while people search for her. Her cell phone and expensive Ferragamo shoes which would have provided clues to her disappearance assume lives of their own and become subplots. As she ruminates in her captivity the narrative becomes very psychological and as the search for her goes on we learn what other people thought of her. She was not very nice. She was attempting to undercut her boss by starting her own company. She was doing this by luring away one of the most important clients, a married man, by sleeping with him. She had manipulated an old boyfriend into lending her money. She disdained her hometown as hopelessly provincial. Assertive and aggressive, she was resolute on obtaining success. When she facilitates her own escape after a month, she is angry that the authorities had not discovered her sooner.

The ending is stunning. Not that it is unexpected but that it presents the reader with much ambiguity. Does the author expect us to believe that this event will precipitate a major character change brought about by the introspection that occurred during her severe confinement? It certainly doesn’t fit her personality as described before. Intriguing. Himalayan Pink Salt is a narrative that enthralls and perks, with innovative stylistic hooks, it would make a great movie.