Today sees my ninth Feminist Friday post! For those of you who are new, each month I select a book to read that fits my own feminist criteria, which I then share with you on the second Friday of the month. For me, the books I choose must embody female strength of character and be inspirational to read. I try to explore work from a wide variety of genres, reading anything from classics and memoirs to fiction and poetry. So without further ado, here is my choice for September: Salt On Your Tongue: Women and the Sea by Charlotte Runcie…
Back in lockdown I was on an online book shopping spree (because one can never have to many books – and because choosing new books is one of the best forms of therapy!), when Runcie’s book cropped up in my searches. Captivated by both synopsis and cover I ordered a copy for myself and my mum to read. Although it’s taken a few months to get around to reading, it was absolutely worth the impulse purchase – the songs of the sea contained within it’s pages were calling to me even then…
I’m not a maritime historian, and this isn’t a history of tall ships. It’s a story of women and water and love, with a birth and a death, songs and tall tales, and the wind blowing high on the waves.Salt On Your Tongue, Charlotte Runcie, 2019
Salt On Your Tongue interweaves the stories of history, myths and legends, waves, women and life. At once both a memoir, and a historical look at what the sea has meant to women over the centuries. Runcie vividly conveys her own deep love of the ocean, walking us over beaches, sharing the rewarding experience of beachcombing, guiding us through paintings, reciting poetry and singing sea shanties – all the while conjuring the mythical creatures and their symbolism through tales of the waves.
Utterly beautiful. Heartfelt, poetic, honest, compelling, magical and as rhythmic in it’s prose as the waves themselves. A beautiful portrayal of the journey into motherhood, the magic that is storytelling, the spirit of the ocean, and the miracle that is life. One of those books you want to read again and again.
I loved the snippets of legends and myths, poetry and sea shanties that were infused with Runcie’s journey. This last week I have really looked forward to snuggling up under blankets or catching a moment outside in the autumnal sun, slipping into the lullaby of the prose and loosing myself in tales of the ocean.
Reading this beautiful book found me googling heroines of the water such as the 22 year old, Victorian Lighthouse Keepers daughter Grace Darling and reaching for my phone to YouTube Sea Eagles fishing so I could see them for myself! Not only did reading this book inspire a deep connection to the natural tides of being a women and a reverence for the creation of life, but it also nurtured a passion for the natural world, our maritime heritage and the power of stories and legends.
Above Left: Portrait of Grace Darling by Thomas Musgrave Joy, 1839. Above Right: Sea Eagle Fishing, Scotland.
Yesterday morning I was listening to Eleanor Tomlinson’s album Tales from Home. The album includes a song titled The House Carpenter, the lyrics of which tell the story of a woman who leaves her husband and baby for her former lover, who is come from the salt salt sea to reclaim her under the promise of his watery riches and treasure. However, once at sea her lovers identity becomes known – a personification of the devil himself, their journey is bound for the hills of hell and the boat sinks into the depths of the ocean. It’s story always sends shivers down my spine…
Having just finished reading Salt On My Tongue I was inspired to follow the song further and discover more about it’s origins. I found that it most likely comes from a Scottish Ballad titled The Daemon Lover and it’s message warns against the abandonment of your children… Everywhere I turn now I see the connections of sea and motherhood, stories and songs, the pull of the ocean resonating with the power of art and music to convey messages and fables that survive for centuries.
In Salt On My Tongue Runcie beautifully balances the dark and light sides of the tales from the ocean and the experiences of life. A perspective altering book. I thoroughly recommend reading and have really enjoyed sharing it with you.
If you are a regular follower you may have noticed that I seem to have a tendency to explore women’s connection to the sea! But for those of you who are new and would like to check out similar titles I’ve chosen to read and review for Feminist Friday see Gift From The Sea, I Found My Tribe and Great Goddesses. For any other Feminist Friday posts see here.
Have a lovely weekend 🙂
Meg Readz xx