She finds more than she bargained for.
'He took a long time to come to the door. She had to hammer on the oak with her fists. And then he wrenched it open, staring down at her and blinking in the light. He had never run to fat but she had always thought of him as very fit and muscular. Now his clothes hung off him and his thinness made him seem even taller. His hair was grey, and his face was stony. She had a nightmare about him afterwards. In her dreams, he was slowly turning into one of the ancient monoliths that walked the fields below the farm.'
Back in 1960s Scotland, young Finn O’Malley travels from Ireland to work on a Scottish farm. He and Kirsty, the farmer’s red-headed grand-daughter, become firm friends. But Finn is damaged by a childhood so traumatic that he can only recover his memories slowly. What happened at the brutal Irish Industrial School to which he was committed while still a little boy? For the sake of his sanity, Finn must find out why he was taken into care and what became of the mother he loved and lost.
Time passes, Kirsty moves away and the threads that have bound these two friends so closely together begin to unravel. Only her ambitions as an artist can give her the fulfilment she seeks, but her work is tied up with her love for her home and for Finn, who comes and goes like the corncrake each summer.
Dealing with the realities of state-sanctioned physical abuse and its aftermath, Bird of Passage is a novel which tackles a shameful piece of Irish history, as well as a powerful and explicit story of cruelty, loss and enduring love against all the odds. It is also a deliberate - but quite subtle - homage to Wuthering Heights which has, for many years, been the author's favourite novel.
What reviewers have said:
‘I was three-quarters of the way through this book ... before it dawned on me that it was Wuthering Heights in modern dress. I was tipped off by a couple of sly and amusing references to twigs tapping on windows and ghosts, and by the hero disappearing for years and then returning a rich man.
It’s not a re-telling, though – it’s a re-imagining. A dialogue with the older book, if you like. It asks, would the same story, the same deathless love, be possible in the modern age, and if so, how? ... I was convinced, moved and impressed...
Whether you love Wuthering Heights or not, if you enjoy an involving, beautifully written book, you’ll enjoy Bird of Passage.
Susan Price, Awfully Big Reviews
‘There are no pat answers in this story and no neatly contrived solutions. Endings are jagged, situations remain unresolved. Yet at the end of the book there is a feeling of satisfaction that things did work out as they should – at least to some extent. I think that makes the story and its characters all the more realistic and credible. It’s hard to pigeonhole this book to a specific genre. It’s a love story, yet sometimes defies the label. It’s contemporary, yet dwells quite a bit in the past. As to its audience – I think this would appeal to readers who don’t need to be led by the hand and who enjoy challenging relationships. Wholeheartedly recommended.’
Gilly Fraser, the Indie eBook Review.
'It's not just a cracking read, it's a genuinely powerful one, and once you stumble over the great love story at its centre you won't be able to put this book down. There's real pain here and many different kinds of healing, few of them nice. A story that ... has as many harsh and knotted bits as deliciously sweet ones, you will be taken to a different world by it, but one as real as your own.'
Dr David Manderson, University of the West of Scotland.
Catherine Czerkawska is an established and award winning author of novels, short stories and plays.