Anne Gallagher grew up enchanted by her grandfather’s stories of Ireland. Heartbroken at his death, she travels to his childhood home to spread his ashes. There, overcome with memories of the man she adored and consumed by a history she never knew, she is pulled into another time.
The Ireland of 1921, teetering on the edge of war, is a dangerous place in which to awaken. But there Anne finds herself, hurt, disoriented, and under the care of Dr. Thomas Smith, guardian to a young boy who is oddly familiar. Mistaken for the boy’s long-missing mother, Anne adopts her identity, convinced the woman’s disappearance is connected to her own.
As tensions rise, Thomas joins the struggle for Ireland’s independence and Anne is drawn into the conflict beside him. Caught between history and her heart, she must decide whether she’s willing to let go of the life she knew for a love she never thought she’d find. But in the end, is the choice actually hers to make?
Ireland is my greatest love, as far as places go. If you’re wondering, you can read my sappy post here. So, when I heard about What the Wind Knowsand that it’s set in Ireland…I was hooked. Then, I opened the first few pages. I grew teary. The words were more like music, and I have found myself crying more than a few times at the sheer beauty of Harmon’s words. So, so lovely. I cannot explain why her words affect me, but they do.
I do not want to spoil the story, but it is filled with love, history of my favorite place (my love, Ireland), stories that make me wonder and imagine, and words that make me think about freedom and the history of mankind.
From the beginning:
“The wind you hear is the same wind that has always blown. The rain that falls is the same rain. Over and over, round and round, like a giant circle. The wind and the waves have been present since time began. The rocks and stars too. But the rocks don’t speak, and the stars are too far away to tell us what they know.”
Goodness. Those words, those ideas—all things I have considered many times. I’ve even mentioned similar things in my books. Nature is such a part of me. I believe it should be a part of all of us because nature knows. This earth has witnessed everything, and it has stories to tell. Also, I really do believe that weare part of nature…or at least, we once were. Technology and busy lifestyles have separated us, and people live separate from nature, separate from the earth in a pretend and false world, a world created by iphones and tvs.
Next. This love story. I cried a few times. Harmon writes so beautifully! I had to read more than a few passages to my husband. Hahaha. I even said, “I hope you love me like Thomas loves Anne,” because…Well, just read a few excerpts from Thomas’s letters:
“I love her with an intensity I didn’t think myself capable of. Yeats writes about being chaged utterly. I am changed utterly. Irrevocably. And though love is indeed a terrible beauty, especially given the circumstances, I can only revel in all its gory gloriousness.”
“I can’t imagine all men love their women the way I love Anne. If they did, the streets would be empty, and the fields would grow fallow. Industry would rumble to a halt and markets would tumble as men bowed at the feet of their wives, unable to need or notice anything but her. If all men loved their wives the way I love Anne, we would be a useless lot. Or maybe the world would know peace. Maybe the wars would end, and the strife would cease as we centred our lives on loving and being loved. Our marriage is only hours old, and our courtship is not much older than that…But it is not the newness of her, the newness of us, that has captured me. It is the opposite. It is as if we always were and always will be, as though our love and our lives sprang from the same source and will return to that source in the end, intertwined and indistinguishable. We are ancient, Prehistoric and predestined.”
Okay, the final quote, about those before us:
“I’d often wondered, absorbed in piles of research, if the magic of history would be lost if we could go back and live it…Like the old man looking back on his youth, remembering only the things he’d seen, did the angel of our gaze sometimes cause us to miss the bigger picture? I didn’t think time offered clarity so much as time stripped away the emotion that colored memories. The Irish Civil War had happened eighty years before I’d traveled to Ireland. Not so far that the people had forgotten it, but enough time had passed that more—or maybe less—cynical eyes could pull the details apart and look at them for what they were.
“But sitting in the crowded session, seeing men and women who had lived only in pictures and in print, hearing their voices raised in argument, in protest, in passion, I was the furthest thing from objective and detached; I was overcome…
“I’d been wrong about one thing. These were not average men and women. Time had not given them a gloss they had not earned. Even those I wanted to loathe, based on my own research and conclusions, conducted themselves with fervor and honest conviction. There weren’t posing politicians. They were patriots whose blood and sacrifice deserved history’s pardon and Ireland’s compassion.”
I cried at her words. Harmon has an uncanny ability to dictate things to the reader’s heart. I could not help but think of American History and the many founding fathers. I do believe Time gave us the best. I believe Time (Or, if I’m being honest, God) plants people in the exact places they are needed for the best of all mankind.
So, final thoughts: definitely worth the read. I binged it in a few days, as made evident by the piles and piles of to-dos around the house…I do, however, feel like I have to acknowledge that some scenes were PG-13…so there’s that, if you are a sensitive reader (which I mostly am).
I doubt I’ll get any more reading in for a few weeks. Family for the fourth and Girls’ camp for my church are about to ruin my sanity (preparations, that is…).