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The Bird Woman    by Kerry Hardie order for
Bird Woman
by Kerry Hardie
Order:  USA  Can
Little, Brown & Co., 2006 (2006)

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* * *   Reviewed by Mary Ann Smyth

An independent Northern Irish Presbyterian, Ellen McKinnon kicks over her traces - including her husband Robbie - to travel south to Kilkenny and Liam, a Catholic. While married to Robbie, she had a vision, a seeing, which frightened her so much that she lost her wee baby. That seeing marked her realization that she was not like others.

Ellen became known in the countryside in the south of Ireland as having healing hands. How she deals with this unwanted gift is the main thrust of The Bird Woman. The reader lives inside Ellen's thoughts as she struggles to accept her gift. Author Kerry Hardie has a wonderful, lyrical way with words, compelling the reader to read on, hating to place a bookmark to continue later.

Hardie's take on Ireland is magical. Had I not been there myself many times, I would have had to book a trip tomorrow. Hardie evokes the soft rains, the pastel sunsets, the wind sloughing through the trees, as she herself must see and hear these things. Despite the fact that Ellen's thoughts are harsh and unforgiving of herself and others, Hardie makes even the very rocks of Ireland seem as though they might be soft to the touch. Bird Woman is a must read.

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