The House of the Wind
Readers of multi-period epics will relish this story. Hardie has skillfully blended the themes and settings of the 21st-century United States and 14th-century and modern Italy into an astounding plot reminiscent of Erin Brockovich and Under the Tuscan Sun. It also includes a masterful treatment of the myth in Keats’ poem The Eve of St. Agnes.
The novel opens in both periods on the eve of St. Agnes’ Day—January 20th. In 2007 San Francisco, a young lawyer, Maddie, is trying to sleep alone in her apartment, speechless upon hearing of the accidental death of her fiancé. For her, “St. Agnes’ moon had set.” In 1347 Tuscany, Mia, a young girl, also silent since the murder of her mother, is preparing for bed, “her breathing quiet, in respect for Agnes.” She opens the door of her villa to a man and a woman “whose face was a mystery to Mia, backlit as she was by the huge moon.”
Maddie’s and Mia’s stories are narrated in alternating chapters. Mia is helped to find her voice by the mysterious woman. She harbors secrets of her own, related to the Casa al Vento. Maddie, grieving for her loss, is unable to concentrate on an important corporate lawsuit involving workers’ health and safety. At the suggestion of her Italian grandmother, Maddie visits a casa in Tuscany. There the surroundings and the romantic interest of an architect soothe her mind. She learns of her heritage, upon the discovery of the bones of three women during excavations at the villa.
Readers of fast-paced historical fiction may find Hardie’s meticulously written images of medieval and modern lives interjected with myth, plague, and corporate law slow and overwhelming. Nevertheless, immersing oneself in this novel to the conclusion will be a rewarding experience, and a discovery of heartaches and healings.