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The Bird Woman

by Kerrie Hardie

      In The Bird Woman, Kerrie Hardie has introduced an intriguing heroine in Southern Irish Catholic Ellen McKinnon. Ellen has clairvoyant visions that seem to be the start of her troubles. She leaves her husband and moves to Northern Ireland to live with Liam, who insists that she use her visions, which have mutated into her ability to cure the sick. Ellen never comes to term with this gift -or curse, as she would call it.

Ellen marries Liam, and they have two children. She is settling when she has to confront the idea that Liam has had an affair with one of the few people who has befriended Ellen. Then she must go home for her motherís funeral. Her mother has treated Ellen with less than a motherís love since she left her first husband.

Three strands keep the novel moving at different levels. There is the friction that is always present between Ellen and her family (especially her mother); there is the constant comparison of the cultures of Northern and Southern Ireland; and there is the constant decision as to how Ellen will use or not use her talents.

I find Ellen to be a complex character who changes as time and situation demand, and at her motherís funeral she begins to make some sense of her life. A good read.

The Book

Little, Brown and Co / Hachette
August 2006
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The Reviewer

Willie Elliott
Reviewed 2007
© 2006