The Crows of Beara
by Julie Christine Johnson
Paperback: 300 pages
Publisher: Ashland Creek Press (September 1, 2017)
Along the windswept coast of Ireland, a woman discovers the landscape of her own heart
When Annie Crowe travels from Seattle to a small Irish village to promote a new copper mine, her public relations career is hanging in the balance. Struggling to overcome her troubled past and a failing marriage, Annie is eager for a chance to rebuild her life.
Yet when she arrives on the remote Beara Peninsula, Annie learns that the mine would encroach on the nesting ground of an endangered bird, the Red-billed Chough, and many in the community are fiercely protective of this wild place. Among them is Daniel Savage, a local artist battling demons of his own, who has been recruited to help block the mine.
Despite their differences, Annie and Daniel find themselves drawn toward each other, and, inexplicably, they begin to hear the same voice–a strange, distant whisper of Gaelic, like sorrow blowing in the wind.
Guided by ancient mythology and challenged by modern problems, Annie must confront the half-truths she has been sent to spread and the lies she has been telling herself. Most of all, she must open her heart to the healing power of this rugged land and its people.
Beautifully crafted with environmental themes, a lyrical Irish setting, and a touch of magical realism, The Crows of Beara is a breathtaking novel of how the nature of place encompasses everything that we are.
“A captivating tale of our yearning to belong and the importance of following this ancient call.” —Kathryn Craft, award-winning author of The Far End of Happy and The Art of Falling
“Julie Christine Johnson swept me away from the first page…She is a lush writer who does not turn away from the heart.” —Julie Maloney, poet, author, director of Women Reading Aloud
Her self-respect was like a broken plate badly glued and in use again.
In one moment, the façade torn down. It was like being outed as a spy by another agent. A relief. At last she could drop the pretense and slip into a familiar language. “How long have you been sober?”
An old woman beamed up at her. She was like a wren, tiny and round with spindly limbs, bundled in soft browns. Annie could see her pink scalp, mottled with age spots, through the fleecy curls wound tightly against her head. She wanted to scoop up this tiny creature and tuck her into a pocket.
I keep hoping the last time I see you will be the last time I see you.
I regret never visiting Ireland and felt the pull to renew my passport and consider traveling again after reading Ms. Johnson’s lush observations and emotive descriptions of the countryside and people. While Ireland played a major role in this story, it was ultimately a character-driven novel featuring two recovering addicts who had lived a world apart yet shared several similar experiences. Daniel was an Irish artist who had a painful past that had landed him in prison. Annie had experienced a bad decade and had spiraled into full addiction after a tsunami of traumatic events. Recently out of rehab – her marriage was over due to her infidelity, and her employment was hanging by a thread with the last chance assignment of a large PR project in Ireland, which presented several questionable complications and environmental issues that left her deeply conflicted. Annie was a hot mess and had built her own pyramid of poor choices and knew she was stepping into another one by working for a mining company whose plans would most likely devastate the Irish countryside and decimate the habitat of nearly extinct species of crows. I wanted to give Annie several pops to the head with my Kindle as I made my way through this incrementally slowly developing yet interesting and somewhat mystical tale. I held my breath Annie was going to go off the rails and do further damage to herself and the sweet Irish community she was visiting. Annie was as frustrated with herself and her job as I was with her. She wanted to do the right thing but kept vacillating as to what that would be or how to go about it. I had already given up on her in despair by the time she had finally figured that out, although the ending brought a contented smile back to my face. I was provided with a review copy of this thoughtfully written book by TLC Book Tours.
About Julie Christine Johnson
Julie Christine Johnson’s short stories and essays have appeared in journals including Emerge Literary Journal; Mud Season Review; Cirque: A Literary Journal of the North Pacific Rim; Cobalt; and River Poets Journal. Her work has also appeared in the print anthologies Stories for Sendai; Up, Do: Flash Fiction by Women Writers; and Three Minus One: Stories of Love and Loss. She holds undergraduate degrees in French and psychology and a master’s in international affairs. Julie leads writing workshops and seminars and offers story/developmental editing and writer coaching services.
Named a “standout debut” by Library Journal, “very highly recommended” by Historical Novels Review, and “delicate and haunting, romantic and mystical” by bestselling author Greer Macallister, Julie’s debut novel In Another Life (Sourcebooks) went into a second printing three days after its February 2016 release. A hiker, yogi, and swimmer, Julie makes her home in northwest Washington state.