A heart-broken author travels to Ireland to spread her grandfather’s ashes where 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.
Anne Gallagher, the protagonist of this story, is an author. She says she writes stories about love, magic, and history. That’s as meta as it can get.
What the wind knows, indeed, has a bit of all three: Love, Magic, and History. It’s a magical romance, complete with time-travel, and it’s the history of Ireland, lovingly told.
There are so many different kinds of love explored in this story that make readers yearn in different ways. The love and respect Anne has for her Grandfather is absolute. The story begins with her losing him and it doesn’t take many pages with Grandfather Eoin for us to miss him the way she did.
Whereas the love young Eoin has for his father figure, Thomas, and his mother, the time-travelling Anne, is reverential. It’s as if he cannot believe that such people lived and breathed even as they did. Which makes sense for Anne because she is unbelievable. An oddity. Someone who’s supposed to be dead but also never born. But Thomas, he is larger than life simply because of his goodness.
Of course, the romantic love between Anne and Thomas, that forms the main plot of the story, is quietly explosive and all-absorbing.
We see Thomas the way Anne, Eoin, and the people of Dromohair see him – a generous, patriotic, committed doctor and a great human. I realised that I enjoyed reading his journal entries about how much he loved Anne more than the romantic plot itself. Watching a great man fall in love with someone he deserves is its own kind of happiness.
I’d be remiss if I don’t mention the Irish’s love for their country. There is a strange kinship I feel with countries suppressed by the British. I’d heard about the IRA and Irish civil war before, but reading about it from the point of view of those who were a part of it in 1920’s made me see how closely it resembled India’s struggle for freedom. I enjoyed getting to know the fictional Michael Collins and I am eager to know the real him too (well, as much as I can through the history goggles).
As the author, Amy Harmon, says in her note, you’ll fall in love with the wind, the rocks, the lough of Ireland just as you will with the characters.
Another big reason I loved this book was the writing. It was poignant and poetic. It ebbed and flowed. It was layered and interconnected, just like the author describes time in this story.
There are only two things that are stopping me from giving this book a perfect 5. The vernacular of characters living in 1920’s Ireland doesn’t feel right and the ending is a bit rushed.
If you are only interested in learning the history of Ireland, this book may not be for you. However, if you want to read a moving story told with Ireland’s history, geography, and mythology as the backdrop, you should pick it up right now.