Salt on my Skin

By Benoîte Groult

“Salt on My Skin is widely regarded as Groult’s most pioneering, best-loved book.
This highly-charged novel follows the passionate relationship between mismatched lovers: a Parisian intellectual and a Breton fisherman, brought together by lust. Through love-letters and exotic encounters around the world, their life-long affair evolves—liberating them from the restrictions and disappointments dealt by real life.

Set in France in the 1960s, it explores the touching dynamics of the couple’s relationship, and whether their raw desire for each other can overcome the…
Read more about this book







Literary novel



Year of publication


Date of publication 5 February 2019


‘A leading French feminist and writer, Groult drew wide attention with this sexually daring novel.’ –The New York Times‘A 1988 bestseller hailed for its frank descriptions of female sexual desire.’ –Variety Magazine‘When Benoite is good she is very, very good. And when she is describing the collective madness which overtook France during the liberation, she is brilliant.’ –Kirkus

"This book is delightful for its frequently beautiful prose, and appealing for how it deals with controversial subjects (abortion, female subjugation, sexism in language)."—Publishers Weekly

About the author

Benoîte Groult

By her own account, Benoîte Groult was a late-bloomer as an author and feminist. She was in her 40’s when she first began writing and in her 50’s when she embraced feminism. She immediately proved to be a prolific writer and an ardent activist. She wrote Salt on my Skin when she was 65. Married four times, she died in 2016 aged 96.

Book Club Questions

Book Club Questions

  1. George turns down Gauvin’s offer of marriage at the age of twenty. Why do you think that is? Do you think she was right to do so? How do you think she feels looking back at that youthful decision in later life?
  2. Which of the two, Gauvin and George, do you think is most honest with themselves about their feelings? Who knows themselves better? Explain.
  3. Do you think George and Gauvin’s relationship could have survived marriage? Why, why not? What would it have been like?
  4. Do you think people can escape their upbringing? Could George and Gauvin have met, in the long term, at a harmonious place between their two classes? Which of the pair do you think would have been more likely to adapt to the other’s way of being?
  5. Do you think Gauvin’s marriage was a happy one? Would he have led a happier life without the reemergence of George?
  6. How do you imagine Marie Josée’s life to be? Do you think she suspected her husband of cheating on her?
  7. Can you describe the advantages and disadvantages of George’s three other main relationships (Jean-Christophe, Sidney, François)? What did she get from these men that Gauvin lacked, and where did these men fail her?
  8. If you could describe George and Gauvin’s relationship in 5 words, what would they be? Discuss your answers.
  9. Throughout the novel George reflects a lot on the aging process – what sort of thoughts does she have as she grows older? How does she change as a person?
  10. What do you think is the function of her ‘chaperone’ within the story?
  11. This novel was originally published in 1988. What sort of effect do you think it might have had at that time? Why? How might the book be received differently today?
  12. What do you think about the language used to describe sex and passion in this novel? What do you think Groult was trying to emphasise by this way of writing, and does she achieve it?