Hannah Kent. A novel set in County Kerry, Ireland, 1825. Ok, you've got me for the next few days. I'll be reading while driving, cooking, cleaning, even eating and sleeping. (Audiobooks - before you all rush to tell me how dangerous that is!)
The fires on the hills smouldered orange as the women left, pockets charged with ashes to guard them from the night. Watching them fade into the grey fall of snow, Nance thought she could hear Maggie's voice. A whisper in the dark.
"Some folk are born different, Nance. They are born on the outside of things, with a skin a little thinner, eyes a little keener to what goes unnoticed by most. Their hearts swallow more blood than ordinary hearts; the river runs differently for them."
Nóra Leahy is at the centre of this folksy tale. She's overwhelmed by grief. She's lost her husband and daughter, and now must care for her grandson - four-year-old Micheál. He's suffering from a debilitating disease, fitting and foaming, but also unable to talk and losing his ability to control his limbs. She needs more than a little help. For that, there's Mary, a young girl she hired, barely old enough to be a big sister, never mind a carer. And then there's Nance - who has herbs to help everything, but everyone believes she's a witch, and dangerous. Can she help this little boy?
You get the gist. This is beautifully sad - the quotes above show some of Hannah Kent's magic. It's well-researched, finely crafted and as lyrical as the accents you can imagine in the dialogue.
Thoroughly enjoyed it.