What the Wind Knows by Amy Harmon is a historical fiction novel where the main character travels back in time and falls in love. This novel was a good way to temporarily quench my thirst during the current Droughtlander. (Only fans of the Outlander books and TV Series will understand the pain of Droughtlander).
Anne Gallagher, who is only 30 years old in 2001, is a successful American author. After her parents died when she was six, she is raised by her Irish-born grandfather, Dr. Owen Gallaher. Owen instills the love of story-telling in Anne but he tells little of his family history to his granddaughter. His parents die during the Easter Rebellion in 1916 and the body of his mother, also named Anne, is never found. Owen is raised by a family friend, Dr. Thomas Smith. Owen’s grandmother, Bridget, also lives with them. Just before he died, Owen shows Anne a few pictures from his childhood. It is amazing how much the modern-day Anne and her great-grandmother Anne, look alike. One of the pictures shows Dr. Thomas Smith, Michael Collins, the Irish crusader, and Owen’s mother, Anne together at a wedding. The picture is not dated, so Anne mistakenly presumes it was taken before 1916.
After Owen’s death in July 2001, Anne makes her first-ever trip to Ireland to spread his ashes in a loch on Dr. Smith’s estate, which is now owned by a trust. Anne rents a boat, spreads the ashes, then a dense fog rolls in. A strange scuffle ensues, and Anne is pulled from the loch by none other than Dr. Thomas Smith. She quickly realizes she is in 1921 and that she must pretend to be her deceased great-grandmother in order to survive. This is difficult since so many people knew the original Anne, who was a rebel with a cause. Not only do the two Annes have different personalities, but there are some subtle physical differences. Bridget, who is actually her great-great-grandmother, believes the modern-day Anne to be her daughter-in-law. Bridget immediately distrusts Anne, which causes problems throughout the novel.
The historical fiction section of the novel discusses Michael Collins’ fight for an Irish Free State in order to gain independence from England. The book presents Dr. Smith as one of Collins’ besties, enabling him to give a first-hand account of many important political events. I found some of the historical recitations to be stodgy. Like Claire Beauchamp Randall Frasier, the Anne Gallagher of 2001 knows the outcome of the 1920’s events but she realizes she cannot change history.
The story of how Anne adjusted to life in 1921 is entertaining. Anne develops a loving relationship with her grandfather, Owen, who is only a young boy. The young Owen believes that Anne is his deceased mother come back to life after missing since 1916. History repeats itself in the lessons an Anne teaches a young Owen, which are the same lessons modern-day adult Owen teaches his young granddaughter. The love story between Anne and Dr. Smith is predictable but still enchanting.
3.75 (for the boring parts) rounded up to 4-stars. I don’t know if my book club would enjoy this, but I want to recommend it to others who are suffering from Outlander withdrawal symptoms.