I hope you are doing well this weekend and enjoying some sunshine. We’ve had surprisingly mild weather this week and are loving it! It’s nice to get outside in the winter. Although we are also hoping for more snow this year. Snow is so magical with little kids.
This morning I am thrilled to be sharing a review of one of my favorite historical fiction novels: What the Wind Knows by Amy Harmon. I recently read this book after my mom recommended it after she read it for book club. It’s a beautiful novel and a fascinating look inside Irish Revolutionary history. I absolutely loved it!
- I haven’t read much about Irish history but I am fairly well read in English and British history. So this was a really intriguing look at another angle of the UK. I found the details fascinating and now I am aching to go visit Ireland and experience it for myself.
- I’ll admit a time travelling book set in the violent Irish Revolution sounds a bit strange. But it really is beautiful.
According to Goodreads, “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?“
The writing in this book is absolutely beautiful and creates a gorgeous backdrop for the story. There are so many quotes that I want to underline and remember. About Ireland, about love, about family, about choices, about people. I often found myself nodding or shaking my head with wonder at how Harmon describes her characters and settings. The imagery is exquisite. Ireland is brought to life in ways I have never experienced a place in a novel. Now, I want to visit Ireland and experience the loches and the countryside for myself. The language of this novel creates such a beautiful setting and gorgeous story that sweeps readers away to another time and place.
Again, I loved all the Irish history and the historical details that became a part of this story. While I have a solid knowledge of British history more generally and of English history, I really didn’t know much about Ireland’s revolutions and fight for independence. I found it fascinating to hear about the Irish and their personalities and fight for freedom. The violence of that movement surprised me. From the Easter Rising and beyond there is a lot of death and bloodshed for their cause. These people truly believed in their revolution so much that they were willing to sacrifice their lives for the hope of an independent Ireland. I can’t help but admire their dedication. I also loved how real historical figures are a part of this story–Michael Collins was easily my favorite. It was fascinating how his identity in the revolution changed and how people’s feelings about him changed. His tragedy is one of the saddest moments in the novel. I actually looked up more about the Irish Revolution after reading this book and was impressed by how much Harmon included in her story.
This is a love story that transcends time and understanding. Anne and Thomas seem very different at the start of the story and they are–coming from different times and absorbed in their own corners of the world. But something beautiful forms when they start to get to know each other. I just loved the romance between Anne and Thomas. Their love blossoms beautifully as their time together continues. I love how passionate and loyal they are to each other. Such a beautiful relationship and definitely brought tears to my eyes at the end. I really enjoyed the unique way we understand what they are both thinking with excerpts from Thomas’ journal alongside Anne’s narrative voice. So clever to have the different narrative voices and the different mediums of hearing those voices. I love books that use multiple perspectives and multiple types of mediums like this. They overlap times and we get pieces of the story throughout the novel which I love!
Overall, I just loved this book. It was a beautifully written story that captured my attention right away. The plot is so clever with the time travel and intricacies of how the time works and who knows what about Anne. And I loved the passionate romance that builds towards both tragedy and happiness. One of the best historical fiction novels I’ve ever read!
What are your favorite historical novels?
What other Amy Harmon novels would you recommend?