What the Wind Knows

Written by Amy Harmon
Review by Waheed Rabbani

In 2001 New York, thirty-something orphan Anne Gallagher’s grandfather, Eoin, who had cared for her since childhood, dies. Anne flies to Dublin, Ireland, to fulfill Eoin’s desire to have his ashes scattered on Lake Lough Gill, close to his ancestral home. Eoin had given Anne some family memorabilia including rings, photographs, and a diary. Anne is surprised to note from the photographs that she is almost a doppelganger of her great-grandmother. Anne wants to set a novel during the Irish Rebellion, and it’s as if her desire comes true: while scattering the ashes, she falls overboard and, when she is rescued, awakens in 1921, in Dr. Thomas Smith’s home. Thomas thinks she is the Mrs. Anne Gallagher who’d gone missing a few years ago. Anne wants to correct the misrepresentation, but when a six-year-old lad, Eoin, calls Anne “mother,” her heart melts. Furthermore, when Anne and Thomas are drawn to each other, she wonders if she can ever reveal her identity and return home.

Most historical fiction readers will recognize the similarity of this novel’s plot with that of Diana Gabaldon’s Outlander. However, in her author’s note, Amy Harmon reveals that she based this novel somewhat on her great-grandfather’s story, and the huge windmills near Lake Lough Gill inspired the novel’s title. The intensive research and the travels to the sites show in the faithful descriptions of the Irish countryside, towns, home, and cuisine of the era. The historical aspects of the Irish Revolution and civil unrest are woven into the plot seamlessly. Although Anne’s and Thomas’ narratives, in alternating chapters, need careful perusing, the strong writing helps keep us focused. While some good reasons are presented for Anne’s deception and staying on in war-torn Ireland, some readers might question her motives.