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Book of the Week: Salt on my Skin by Benoîte Groult

'A 1988 bestseller hailed for its frank descriptions of female sexual desire’ —Variety Magazine

A leading French feminist and writer, Groult drew wide attention with this sexually daring novel.’ —New York Times

Benoîte Groult's scandalous novel tells the passionate relationship between mismatched lovers, a Parisian intellectual woman and a Scottish fisherman, brought together by lust. Their passionate encounters over 30 years make both their lives worth living, even though George realises very early that the lifestyle, education and social differences between them are too great to overcome and that they can never marry or envision a life together. Despite both being married to other people, they still cannot refrain from rekindling their romance over the years, until death tears them apart.

Due to its theme and style, the novel was called pornographic by some early critics because of its explicit sexual depictions. The author's feminist vision is tangible in the way she reclaims female sexuality and the writing of desire from the active perspective of a woman; moreover, Groult evokes the themes of female subjugation, and is open about the challenges faced by women in the social sphere. In spite of the scandal, it was adapted for the cinema by Andrew Birkin in 1992.

Benoîte Groult accepts the challenge of describing sex and pleasure from a female perspective—the difficulty that she consciously and conscientiously faces is to rewrite the precise manifestations of female desire with neither vulgarity nor ridicule.’ —CATHERINE SLAWY-SUTTON, in The Contemporary Novel in France

Salt on my Skin is published by World Editions.

Benoîte Groult was born in Paris in 1920. She studied classical philology and then taught French Literature and Latin. Before becoming a writer in her forties, she was a radio journalist and an editor at Elle and Marie-Claire. She is the author of six other novels, three of them written together with her sister, Flora. Groult’s perennial bestseller, Salt on my Skin (´Les Vaisseaux du Cœur´), published in 1988, was branded pornographic in some literary circles because of its vivid depictions of an extramarital affair and female sexuality. This pioneering text went on to raise a storm, win the hearts of millions, and was subsequently translated into twenty-seven languages.

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