Brown Dog Book Review: What the Wind Knows

In an unforgettable love story, a woman’s impossible journey through the ages could change everything…

Anne Gallagher grew up enchanted by her grandfather’s stories of Ireland. Heartbroken at his death, she travels to his childhood home to spread his ashes. There, overcome with memories of the man she adored and consumed by a history she never knew, she is pulled into another time.


The Ireland of 1921, teetering on the edge of war, is a dangerous place in which to awaken. But there Anne finds herself, hurt, disoriented, and under the care of Dr. Thomas Smith, guardian to a young boy who is oddly familiar. Mistaken for the boy’s long-missing mother, Anne adopts her identity, convinced the woman’s disappearance is connected to her own.

As tensions rise, Thomas joins the struggle for Ireland’s independence and Anne is drawn into the conflict beside him. Caught between history and her heart, she must decide whether she’s willing to let go of the life she knew for a love she never thought she’d find. But in the end, is the choice actually hers to make?element (26).png

BDBR 4 Star

(To see the Brown Dog Book Review rating scale, check out the BDBR homepage by clicking –> here.)

I wish there was an adequate way for me to explain how well this book courted my personality. You know what I mean, right? What the Wind Knows was one of those books we readers come across rarely- the kind of book that slowly unravels the things we love most, like a piece of old-fashioned candy.

This book possessed: poetry, magic, romance, history, time-travel, culture, politics, and folklore. The cool thing is, I’ve read Harmon’s work before but I believe this is her strongest piece thus far in her career; her writing is both delicate and fierce, whimsical, and held together with raw-edged-prose.

  • Have you ever watched a glassblower presentation? The same way the gaffer stretches and pushes and combines those molten pieces is the way Harmon writes. I’m not going to say her writing is effortless but she sure makes it look (and read) that way.

“But the wind and water know all the earth’s secrets. They’ve seen and heard all that has ever been said or done. And if you listen, they will tell you all the stories and sing every song. The stories of everyone who has ever lived. Millions and millions of lives. Millions and millions of stories.” (What the Wind Knows, Amy Harmon)

First things first, Harmon had me at hello Yeats. Fitting, I know, since the majority of the book takes place in Ireland but I love me some W. B. Yeats poetry. The man was the ultimate storyteller. And what a delivery, on Harmon’s part: to mix the (very modern) elements of Anne crossing time with talk of faeries, mountains, moon, and tide = genius.

Secondly, there’s the romance.

Holy swoon.

Our male MC (Thomas) is kind, quiet, and a bit of a poet himself. He’s fiercely intelligent and loyal to a fault. The Irishman quickly became my favorite character, I won’t lie. Thomas keeps a daily journal and among the pages, my (equally favorite) quote of the book, says:

“I can’t imagine all men love their women the way I love Anne. If they did, the streets would be empty, and the fields would grow fallow. Industry would rumble to a halt and markets would tumble as men bowed at the feet of their wives, unable to need or notice anything but her. If all men loved their wives the way I love Anne, we would be a useless lot. Or maybe the world would know peace. Maybe the wars would end, and the strife would cease as we centred our lives on loving and being loved.”

element (23)As for Anne, it took me a little warming-up before I fell in love with her, too. (But it happened, I promise you.) There’s a “mistaken-identity” trope in the mix, one that I thought was handled spectacularly, and in the process the reader finds out exactly who Anne truly is. She’s lost, confused, and wounded – yet, in the end, handles herself with enviable grace and wit.

There’s a third character, of which I won’t talk too much about so I won’t spoil things, but he was absolutely adorable. What a cool twist – both in the present and the past.

This is the kind of book I’d kill to see on-screen.

  • Irish rebellion
  • An eerie lake tucked between the hills
  • Fleeting glances between the MCs (packed with chemistry)
  • Familial story-lines
  • Longing.

Such a rich read, one I couldn’t put down from the moment I read the words: “Don’t go near the water, love.” 

Has anyone read What the Wind Knows by Amy Harmon? Leave a comment below so we can chat!

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