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The Bird Woman: A Novel by Kerry Hardie

The Bird Woman: A Novel

by Kerry Hardie

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She made me what I am.:

From the time she runs off to marry bad boy Robbie, Ellen is filled with a divisiveness that will define the direction of her life. Seeking to escape the cold judgmentalism of her widowed mother, Ellen flees her demons by flying precipitously into relationships with men. A solitary, taciturn child with flaming red hair, Ellen has never cultivated friends, trapped on the barren islands in an isolation so pervasive that she is held captive by her own dark nature. She has the rare gift of seeing, to Ellen a burden and an unwelcome intrusion, yet another mark of her difference from others, her unbelonging: "If you do not bring forward that which is in you, that which is in you will destroy you."

When Ellen meets Liam in the North of Ireland, she is still married to the wild, sometimes savage Robbie and flees from him to the south with Liam, who is Catholic in name only, but still steeped in the culture of his upbringing. Once settled in her new home, the otherness is more pronounced, the familiar trappings of her Protestant youth replaced by the Catholic south and the mores of this new environment: "Peace it may be on paper, but it's an armed and arm's-length peace."

Clinging to Liam, Ellen is forever at war with her nature, waging a pitched battle at what Liam calls "the Healing", for fear that it will destroy her: "I'm all twisted up inside... I'm doing the best I can." Over time and with the steady support of a friend, Catherine, Ellen accepts her gift and begins to use it for the good of others, all the while conscious of the isolation inherent in her circumstances. Marriage, children, the years pass, her union with Liam settling into the soothing routines of duty, but run aground by Liam's personal crisis, which tests the very foundations of their marriage and their love for one another.

This beautifully wrought tale is a novel of contrasts and revelations, Ellen's lifelong struggle to marry the disparate elements of her inner torment, the centuries-old divisions of north and south Ireland, a country split apart by hatred, and the challenges of a marriage that requires more than Ellen is prepared to give. In stunning prose that evokes the beauty of the country and the profound contradictions of the spirit, the author suffuses her protagonist with the passion of dispossession and a yearning for completeness. The past illuminated by the death of her mother and the present fully realized, Ellen survives her dark night of the soul: "I'm thinking that maybe when you reach that point you can't be anyone but yourself." Luan Gaines/2006.
  lonepalm | Dec 8, 2011 |
This is probably the bleakest, most miserable book I have ever read. ( )
  birdy47 | Jul 6, 2007 |
I think I hate this book. ( )
  roninc30 | Nov 30, 2006 |
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0316076236, Hardcover)

Ellen McKinnon's clairvoyant experiences damage her mental and physical health. She must face and assimilate an unwanted but unavoidable family secret, experiencing a revelation that turns her life around in this insightful look at the rift between mysticism and rationalism.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:02:53 -0400)

"Ellen McKinnon sees things. She's managed to keep her unsettling visions to herself, but a recent experience that predicted the death of someone close to her has left both her marriage and her health teetering on the edge of total destruction. When she meets Liam, a sculptor from the south of Ireland, she thinks she has finally found an escape from the images that haunt her." "So she flees with Liam to his countryside home, and with her new love comes new hope that she can suppress the strange powers developing within her. But Ellen, once so strong, is no match for the forces that seem to be taking over her entire being, and soon her "Seeings" mutate into an ability to heal. She fiercely guards her secret, but rumors quickly swirl around her community, and soon the infirm seek her out from far and wide for comfort and cure.""Ellen's struggles to honor her gift, to save her marriage, and to make a life that is both honorable and uplifting form the core of this story."--BOOK JACKET.… (more)

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