When Jack St. Bride arrives by chance in the sleepy New England town of Salem Falls, he decides to reinvent himself. Tall, blond, and handsome, Jack was once a beloved teacher and soccer coach at a girls' prep school -- until a student's crush sparked a powder keg of accusation and robbed him of his reputation. Now, working for minimum wage washing dishes for Addie Peabody at the Do-Or-Diner, Jack buries his past, content to become the mysterious stranger who has appeared out of the blue.
With ghosts of her own haunting her, Addie Peabody is as cautious around men as Jack St. Bride is around women. But as this unassuming stranger steps smoothly into the diner's daily routine, she finds him fitting just as comfortably inside her heart -- and slowly, a gentle, healing love takes hold between them.
Yet planting roots in Salem Falls may prove fateful for Jack. Amid the white-painted centuries-old churches, a quartet of bored, privileged teenage girls have formed a coven that is crossing the line between amusement and malicious intent. Quick to notice the attractive new employee at Addie's diner, the girls turn Jack's world upside down with a shattering allegation that causes history to repeat itself -- and forces Jack to proclaim his innocence once again. Suddenly nothing in Salem Falls is as it seems: a safe haven turns dangerous, an innocent girl meets evil face-to-face, a dishwasher with a Ph.D. is revealed to be an ex-con. As Jack's hidden past catches up with him, the seams of this tiny town begin to tear, and the emerging truth becomes a slippery concept written in shades of gray. Now Addie, desperate for answers, must look into her heart -- and into Jack's lies and shadowy secrets -- for evidence that will condemn or redeem the man she has come to love.
Picoult's new novel (following the acclaimed Plain Truth) is a story about rape and reputation, loosely based on The Crucible. Jack St. Bride comes to Salem Falls, N.H., after his release from prison. The former teacher and soccer coach wants to start a new life following a wrongful conviction for statutory rape. Unfortunately, Salem Falls turns out to be the wrong place to do it. He has no trouble landing a job at the local diner and winning the trust of the diner's eccentric owner, Addie, but the rest of the town is suspicious. Things get dangerous when manipulative 17-year-old Gillian Duncan, whose father owns half the town, gets interested in Jack and tries to seduce him with Wiccan love spells. Then Gillian is assaulted in the woods, and Jack is accused of the crime. As the courtroom battle unfolds, many secrets are revealed, and Picoult's characters are forced to confront the difference between who people are and who they say they are. The difference is considerable: despite the townspeople's aura of virtue, by the end of the book we're hard pressed to find any women who have never been raped or threatened, or any men who are really innocent of violence. While Picoult seems ambivalent about the power of Wiccan spells, she has no doubts about the power of sex and violence to change lives. Some of her characters, though, can be almost disturbingly forgiving. Genuinely suspenseful and at times remarkably original, this romance-mystery-morality play will gain Picoult new readers although her treatment of the aftermath of rape may also make her a few enemies. Agent, Laura Gross. 10-city author tour. (Apr. 10) Forecast: Picoult tastefully tackled touchy subject matter in Plain Truth, but she tips toward sensationalism here. That may gain her readers in the short run, but could undermine her reputation over time. Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information. -- PUBLISHERS WEEKLY.
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1 . Great Author
Posted June 07, 2009 by Kelly , AlaskaJodi Picoult is a wonderful author, this just isn't one of her stronger books. The plot about a drifter coming to town with a history tells you exactly what the conflict will center around. The weak point of this book is the impression that the witch craft may or may not be real. Others may find this appealing, but in this case it weakens the story line.
August 05, 2002
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Excerpt from Salem Falls by Jodi Picoult
On the second worst day of Addie Peabody's life, her refrigerator and dishwasher both died, like long-term lovers who could not conceive of existing without each other. This would have been a trial for anyone, but as she was the owner of the Do-Or-Diner, it blossomed into a catas-trophe of enormous proportions. Addie stood with her hands pressed to the stainless steel door of the Sub-Zero walk-in, as if she might jump-start its heart by faith healing.
It was hard to decide what was more devastating: the health violations or the loss of potential income. Twenty pounds of dry ice, the most the medical supply store had to offer, wasn't doing the job. Within hours, Addie would have to throw away the gallon buckets of gravy, stew, and chicken soup made that morning. "I think," she said after a moment, "I'm going to build a snowman."
"Now?" asked Delilah, the cook, her crossed arms as thick as a blacksmith's. She frowned. "You know, Addie, I never believed it when folks around here called you crazy, but -- "
"I'll stick it in the fridge. Maybe it'll save the food until the repairman gets here."
"Snowmen melt," Delilah said, but Addie could tell that she was turning the idea over in her mind.
"Then we'll mop up and make more."
"And I suppose you're just gonna let the customers fend for themselves?"