Thursday, October 29, 2020

Amy Harmon - What the Wind Knows

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?

Comment: I have enjoyed some books by this author and after reading some positive comments on this title as well, I decided I could give it a go. I finally found the opportunity to read it.

In the beginning of this novel, the heroine Anne is facing the prospect of losing her beloved grandfather, someone who has been thee for her all her life. When he dies, she follows his wishes of having his ashes spread on Lough Gill, a lake near the home he has known as a young boy before he emigrated to America. Once there, Anne can't help remember all the stories he told her and she sees that area of Ireland as any of her ancestors might until the day she does travel into the lake and something extraordinary happens. A fog comes out of nowhere and when she feels she might get lost, she is found by people from a different era.

Suddenly, she is in 1921, during the time of the Irish rebellions and revolutions, and also a time when her grandfather was only a young boy. Then, Anne is confused with his mother, who shared the same name and looks, but some people might not believe it, especially doctor Thomas Smith, a man her grandfather had considered a father, now a man Anne has to face and convince of who she is and, perhaps, avoid falling in love with...

If one thinks about this novel as a whole, I would say it was a good novel, very engrossing and filled with interesting details. While I was reading, I often had the google map of the Sligo area in Ireland in the computer screen, where the action takes place. I had never heard of that place and it was very nice to have an idea of the names mentioned (the author includes a note at the end to contextualize this). I would say the reason why I didn't grade this book higher was mostly due to balance.

The book is constructed around the idea of how the heroine time travels. These stories are always pushing the suspension of credibility a little for obvious reasons, but there's the fun part at the same time. However, apart from the confusion it can originate in the reader and the sometimes complicated steps taken by authors to make some rules/situations work out in the end, I would say the majority of loose ends one would want to see explained seem to work out well enough here. I'm talking about the fact on how present time Anne went on to meet her young grandfather and how things developed into the scenario where he traveled to America as young man and how Anne come to exist, etc.

If one can suspend disbelief, I feel this novel works out well. I also want to point out I enjoyed immensely the descriptions of Ireland, of the settings, of the places, I think the author did a good job in creating a good atmosphere. 

When I mentioned balance before I was thinking of how much time is spent developing the romance/fiction and how many pages are also dedicated to explain and share facts from the Irish history at the time. There is a lot of historic background, lots of scenes and situations where real Irish figures appear and are part of the plot and I feel this was a bit too much. It got to a point I felt was little difficult to focus on the fiction part, or the romance, because there was a lot of history to think of. I don't mean to say this is wrong, or that the information isn't interesting and sometimes even necessary. But it was way more than the overall story required. Some parts dragged and were, well, a little boring too because it was time taken from the protagonists.

Anne and Thomas don't have the best start as he thinks she's the other Anne and she is acting weird. Nevertheless, it becomes pretty obvious they feel attracted to each other but this is a romance focused on their feelings and not on passion, so we are just aware of how they care for one another, there are no sex scenes on the page. All the issues of time travel aside, I liked how they slowly started to like and trust one another. I think their romance was a sweet one. But it was a bit disappointment we didn't get to see more of their connection because many pages were dedicated to other subjects. Still, their personalities matched, I liked knowing little things about them by a gesture they had, by a word they said, by a look they gave... the author was good in this regard.

The way things progressed should not be a surprise for anyone who had read time travel romance before but it still offered some drama, some expectancy to how things might work out. I think the end was sweet, was cute, was one readers might enjoy. These kind of books, time travel I mean, always leave me thinking, though. For some situations to work, sometimes we can only rely on memories or things left behind... it can leave one in a certain mood...

Anyway, I liked the book, I will certainly read more by the author, but I wish she had balanced her choices differently, when it came to how the romance developed.

Grade: 6/10

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