What the Wind Knows

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This book is copyrighted in 2019. We read it for our November 2022 meeting so it was already a couple years old. I was pleasantly surprised to discover, thanks to a header on the Amazon page, that I already owned the eBook. (I have a habit of "purchasing" eBooks when they are on a free promo if the book sounds vaguely interesting. Kind of a rainy-day shelf, or for when my eyes get too old that I can't read all the traditional books waiting on my physical shelf, I can change the font size on the eBook and still keep reading.) I also got the hard copy from the library. But, being a VERY HUGE Outlander fan, I was a little hesitant to read a time travel book that takes place in the same general geographic region. (By the way, Amazon tells me I also own the eBook of Outlander, which makes me really happy - because my hard backs hold a special place on my bookshelf, but, back to the failing eyes thing...) Anyway - I needn't have hesitated. I absolutely loved this book. I did not feel disloyal to Outlander in the least, and the book is completely unique, so much that I never even thought of Outlander while reading WtWK.

I found this book easy to read, but with complex sentences that create beautiful prose, "But Thomas was still caught between the memory of them and the prospect of me, and I was snagged between a future that was my past, and a past that might be my future." (Pg. 169) There is a similar sentiment on ePg. 239, "something within me crystallized, as though in that moment a choice was made, and I stepped into a past that would be my future." Even though the wording was almost identical, it felt fresh and just as beautiful when I read it in the second instance. I imagine this book is even better on audio to get all the Irish pronunciations correct. For example, on ePg. 262 (Ch. 18) the name Laoghaire. I know from watching Outlander that it is pronounced leer-ee, but I'm sure a lot of readers wouldn't know that.

I grew up in the 1980s, so I heard quite a bit of U2, and through Bono and U2's music had heard about the skirmishes in Ireland, but didn't really know much about them, so I was inspired to do a couple of googles in order to understand the story better. Along those lines, I was surprised when I read about Lloyd George. He was an actual person. His name was familiar to me because I watched a series called "Pennyworth" which is the backstory of Batman's butler Alfred. It had a plot line of espionage and political wars that also involved Lloyd George. It didn't really occur to me in that series, or in the beginning of this book, that Lloyd George was a real historical figure until I read the google.

Initially I felt like I needed a family tree so I sketched one out, but it really wasn't needed. Since I did it though, I'll try to recreate here, in an upside-down fashion:

Anne (Annie) Gallagher

(mom) Hannah Keefe (dad) Declan Gallagher

(granddad) Eoin Gallagher

Sean Mac Diarmada (great grandma) Anne Finnegan 1892 - 1916 (great grandpa) Declan Gallagher

Mary McMorrow --------------------------------------- -(great great grandma) Brigid McMorrow (great great grandpa) Peter Gallagher


On a scale of 1 - 5

Sex: 2

Religion: 5

Gruesome: 1

Suspense: 1

Morality: 1

Sex - a passionate kiss (Ch. 12, ePg 168) End Ch. 16. Journal of 27 November 1921, a man recalls a woman's body, in detail. (Ch. 17, ePg. 261) A woman thinks about how well her lover loves. (Ch. 20, ePg. 294) Passionate groping. (Ch. 21, ePg. 318)

Religion - When asked why he wanted his ashes spread in the lake instead of buried in the church cemetery, Eoin said, "The church just wants my money, but I hope God will take my soul." (Ch. 1, ePg. 14) "Eoin had never been religious...raised by a devout Catholic grandmother but left the relgion behind...He'd insisted I attend a Catholic school...that was the extend of my upbringing." (Ch. 1, ePg. 15) A character says the rosary. (Ch. 2, ePg. 25) Religion is used to mark place and time such as listening for the cathedral bell tower if they get turned around (Ch. 2, ePg. 26) or specifying that a cemetery is a "church cemetery" (Ch. 2, ePg. 27) , which weaves the religion into every day life. Reference to "Golgotha and ...Jesus on the cross", and reverence for a chapel and all its history. (Ch. 3, ePg. 38) Favorable musings on individual relationships with religion. (Ch. 3, ePg. 39) A character is comforted by church. (Ch. 3, ePg. 39) Anne says a prayer "to the wind and water" when she spreads Eoin's ashes. (Ch. 4, ePg. 57) Some people called Mick's "squad" the "twelve apostles". (Ch. 8, ePg. 118) Statement about how they fought for their Catholicism. (Ch. 16, ePg. 241) A Christmas party that ends with a visit to midnight Mass at St. Mary's. *Ch. 19, ePg. 279) Explanation of the religious tradition of putting candles in the windows. (Ch. 19, ePg. 280) Diary entries with several specific parts of Mass (end Ch. 19) The religious aspects of a marriage ceremony are included. (Ch. 20, ePg 305) Commentary on going to Mass. (Ch. 21, ePg. 317)

Gruesome - maybe a scene in the barn with an injury but nothing memorable

Suspense - within the last 10 pages I began to hope that she might be reunited with Thomas

Morality - Anne says she'd dated a few men a few times and called two of them "lovers" even though she didnt' love them but she had slept with them. (Ch. 11, ePg. 150) Journal of 27 November 1921 implies that Thomas saw Anne's body beyond just fishing her out of the lake and changing her into dry clothes. (Ch. 17, ePg. 261)

The cover was kind of a spoiler. I was able to put Maeve's words and the absence of a body together to understand that Anne went back in time.

It seemed weird to me that when the book went back in time, the journal entries still continued to jump back a couple years further. For example, in Chapter 6 it is July 3, 1921 and then the diary entry at the end of the chapter is May 23, 1918. Why go back only a couple years? Usually books go back and forth for a whole generation or two. I could see that the journal and the story timelines were growing ever closer, and I knew they'd eventually merge, I just found it very unusual - but not a deal breaker. I was glad at the end of Chapter 15 when the diary finally picks up where the story left off.

I was also surprised that Anne was such a successful author in the modern day. I knew she was an author, but it didn't come through until the beginning of Ch. 9 when she alludes to having millions in 1995 and having paid $10,000 for diamond earrings. It bothered me a little that this detail wasn't set up from the beginning, but instead conveniently dropped in as if to justify why she had diamond earrings.

There were also a few places that seemed to stretch minimal issues to make a point. Like when they were putting Eoin to bed and he said he didn't remember a story well, but as Anne began to tell it, it was obvious that he remembered it. So they said Eoin was lying. Was it a lie, or did the story come back to him as he heard a bit of it? (ref. Ch. 7) In Ch. 8, Anne's "eyes were glued to the familiar landscape". (ePg. 111) How is it familiar if she never went to Ireland (with Grandpa Eoin) and was only there a few days before she time traveled? Additionally, I found some use of timing words to be over-casual, like the narrator saying the black cars were "antique" even as she saw them alongside horse and buggies. Or the shop sign "in a baroque font no one used anymore". I understand that was the first thing her mind thought when she saw these things, but I think it should have had a realization that what she thought was antique and baroque, is now modern.

Of course, when you are reading romance, you know there will be a moment when the couple doubts the relationship. In this case it was "disintegrating" in Ch. 16 but, thankfully, it only takes one chapter to resolve the doubt. The resolution was simple and classic, yet also beautiful.

Discussion Questions

There was poetry at the beginning of each chapter. What did the poetry add for you? Did you have a favorite verse?

Why does Anne call her grandfather by his given name, Eoin? Ch. 1, (ePg. 8)

"There are some paths that inevitably lead to heartache, some acts that steal men's souls, leaving them wandering forever after without them, trying to find what they lost." (Ch. 1, ePg. 11) Do you know any paths like this?

Anne looked like her great-grandmother. (Ch. 1, ePg. 11) Do you look like any distant ancestors?

Eoin died of cancer. Anne wanted him to be in a hospital with people taking care of him, but Eoin wanted to be home and chose not to undergo treatment, only pain management. (Ch. 1, ePg. 14) How will you handle cancer when it comes for you?

The Irish often feel that the injustices of their past are added "to the centuries-old list every Irishman keeps tucked in the back of his mind and hands on to the next generation". (Ch. 3, ePg. 49) What old wrongs are passed down in your family, country or culture?

Anne wanted to put a Yeats poem on Eoin's gravestone, "had he allowed me to bury him as I wished". (Ch. 4, ePg. 56)
Is it more important to follow the wishes of the dead or of the living?

How did you think the time travel was going to happen?
Did you think the ring or button would have any effect on the time travel? (Ch. 4, ePg. 57)

Young Eoin asks to crawl into bed with Anne. (Ch. 7, ePg. 93) How weird would that be?

There is no mention of a modern day boyfriend for Anne; it seems she had lived her life for Eoin. Did her attraction to Thomas seem in line with her character? (ref. Ch. 7, ePg. 97) (Later, in chapter 11, she tells us she'd had a few dates and a few rolls in the hay, but no love because she'd been a workaholic. ePg. 150)

Anne is bothered that after people die, and a few generations go by, no one remembers them anymore. (end Ch. 7) Does this bother you? What is the importance of preserving family history? Should some people be more preserved than others?

After Anne went to the pawn shop (Ch. 9, pg. 124) she pondered several aspects of time travel: If I had not gone into the pawnbroker with Eoin, would Mr. Kelly have ever given Eoin the watch? Eoin had had the watch all the years I'd known him. Was I changing history, or had I always been part of it? And how had Eoin gotten Anne's ring? If she'd died and was never found, wouldn't she have been wearing it? Can you explain any of these questions? How do you reconcile the two journals? (end Ch. 24 diary) Does Eoin need to grow up and have a son so Anne can exist? How many details do you need when you read a time travel book? Do you prefer that the time glitches be explained or are you okay with suspending reality?

Anne wondered if her grandpa had known who she was all along. (ref. Ch. 10, ePg. 141) Do you think there were two distinct Anne's or was it the same person in a time loop? Anne taught Eoin how to skip rocks and remembered the Eoin had taught her how to skip rocks. (Ch. 12, ePg. 172) How do you reconcile this loop? In Ch. 14 Anne realized that it was her in the photo, not her great grandmother. (ePg. 204) Did that seem like a spoiler that indicated she would get back to the future? In the journal entry for 26 December 1921, Thomas writes "If time was an eternal round, then it never had to end." (Ch. 20, ePg. 306) What are your thoughts about this phrase. The ending, with the letters that Eoin promised he would write to Thomas, but never sent - does this confirm that Eoin knew how it would all wind up? (Ch. 26, ePg. 402)

Did you think Thomas worried that Anne was a spy? (ref. Ch. 12)

When Anne goes to the barn to help with the medical emergency, she takes a sip of whiskey "for courage". (Ch. 13, ePg. 178)
Does whiskey give you courage? Would you take a sip before going into a medical emergency?

How did you feel about Thomas' reaction to Anne's confession at the end of Chapter 15?

When Thomas and Ben were arguing, Thomas said, "So our loyalty is to Ireland and Irishmen unless they disagree with us, then we mow them down? That's not the way it's supposed to work." (Ch. 19, ePg. 287) Does this sound like the cancel culutre of today? Most of us do not know the history of Ireland's troubles, but we are seeing history being made with the war between Russia and the Ukraine. How are the struggles for independence for Ireland and for the Ukraine similar?

On Christmas day, Thomas and Anne agree to get married the next day. (ref. Ch. 20, ePg. 300)
Did you think tomorrow would come or did you think something would happen to prevent the wedding?

Thomas thinks if more people knew love like he and Anne, the world would be a more peaceful place. (ref. Ch. 20, ePg. 307)
What do you think, is it that simple?

Anne thought "time stripped away the emotion that colored memories". (Ch. 21, ePg. 312) How do you think time affects memories?

How did you think the pregnancy was going to work out? (Ch. 22, ePg. 327)

When Anne was writing the history for Michael, she commented about her penmanship being horrible after not writing freehand for quite a while. (Ch. 22, ePg. 328) How has your penmanship changed over time?

How did the pictures and the journal survive the lake? (Ch. 25, ePg. 382)

Theme Ideas

Serve a candy bar like a candy shop where Anne bought "sour licorice and chocolate caramel clusters". (Ch. 2, ePg. 26)

Serve a "little plate of cookies on the flowered plates and teacups", tea with "sugar, lemon or milk". (Ch. 2, ePg. 32)

Serve stout like Mick drank in the diary entry dated 22 August 1921. (Ch. 12, ePg. 175)

Serve champagne like in the diary entry of 26 August 1921. (Ch. 14, ePg. 208)

Serve apple cake with custard sauce. (pg. 252)

Serve spiced punch like at the Christmas party. (Ch. 19, ePg. 281)

Serve tea on china with a "delicate rose pattern" like the tea set Anne gave to Maeve. (Ch. 20, ePg. 295)

Serve "coffee and tea, ham and eggs, and rolls so sticky and sweet" like they ate on Christmas morning after the hurling match. (Ch. 20, ePg. 297)

Serve peppermint tea like Anne served Maeve and the other lady in Ch. 25.

Serve "little cakes in pale pastels" like Anne took to Maeve after her doctor's appointment in Sligo. (pg. 393)

Give rosemary-scented soap like Mrs. o'Toole made. (Ch. 21, ePg. 318)

Decorate with a slinky, like Thomas was intrigued by. (Ch. 26, ePg. 400)