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by Nadine Gallo
Nadine Gallo brings us to the countryside of Ireland in 1917. Nora, Gallo’s feisty, romantic protagonist, plunges us into the atmospheric intrigue that was Ireland during the years preceding the Irish War of Independence. The homespun dress she wore seemed the color of a distant hill. She was shoeless as usual. The colors woven into her dress were like a rainbow trout’s. When they all blended together they were like mist over a lake. Through this fifteen-year old adventurer, we see the misty hills of Eire, hear the brogues and turns of phrase and explore the politics of the times. Nora is steeped in the twists and turns of Michael Collins and DeValera, in the conflicted Irish participation in WWI, and her heart is full with Tim Keane, the local lad going off to the slaughtering fields of France: Nora loved his stories, his poems made up on the spur of the moment. She knew that he loved her for her sudden changes of mind, her devilment, as her father said. Not a girl to sit and wait, Nora visits a cave and hears the voice of an oracle: Faint harp music could be heard in the distance and then a voice spoke like water pouring over rocks. Throughout the book, Gallo’s prose is the voice in the cave, lyrical, irreverent, prophetic and alluring. She delivers Fitzgerald and Kennedy clan lore, curses and blessings in this brilliant telling of a brave and clever girl who sees ghosts in the gorse bushes and can sell her own hand spun, hand-knitted shawl for a pounds worth of salmon and eggs. This is a spell worth succumbing to.
NADINE GALLO was born in Astoria, Queens in 1936. Her parents were immigrants. Mother Nora told stories of rebels, ghosts and fairies while her father Stephen told sea stories from Liverpool to New York. Later they went to Brosna, Kerry where the stories came alive.