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Friday, November 26, 2021

Where Now Begins by Kerry Hardie and Four Thousand Days by M. J. Trow

After seeing Belfast, I was reminded of a couple of books that I'd read about The Troubles,  I remembered reading The Bird Woman by Kerry Hardy, which was  particularly touching.

I reviewed it here, among several reviews in December of 2006.  

Having been reminded of the book, I remembered that Hardy was a poet and ordered a book of her poetry.  Evidently she wrote only the two novels, but seven collections of poetry.  I ordered Where Now Begins.

Into the Light

All prayers are poems, incantations,
arising our of darkness, joy or grief--

splinters of feather and bone, 
that flicker and spin and are gone,

as brief and intense as a coal-tit's fierce cling

to a coconuts strung from an ash in the rainy air.

Real Estate

For thirty years
we have walked around
inside each other's lives.

We pay bills, hang out the wash, 
comfort children who wake.
Sometimes we bury our dead.

This is the house we inhabit, 
fragile as glass,
the light passing through.

And I loved this line from Daylilies:

"filling the garden with all the wrong colours--
disordered, unruly and joyous."

I read the poems slowly over a period of days and will go back over them again and possibly, again, as is the way of reading poetry.  Hardie is a wonderfully lyric poet who is immersed in her Irish roots, nature, life, grief, and imagery.

Poetry.  Nov. 12, 2020.  

Some other good books about Northern Ireland and The Troubles:
The Ghosts of Belfast by Stuart Neville
Shadows on Our Skin by Jennifer Johnston

Set in 1900 London, M.J. Trow uses the University College of London (UCL) as a fitting backdrop for Dr. Margaret Murray, professor of archaeology.  

A young constable who has attended Margaret's free public lectures on Fridays recognizes the body a young woman in a rented room.  She, too, had been attending the free Friday archaeology lectures, but Alice Groves/Helen Richardson had been living a double life.  

Constable Adam Crawford is not pleased that his superior has decided immediately that the death is a suicide, eager to write off the death of a young prostitute as of no concern.

Margaret Murray, on hearing Crawford's doubts, determines to find out more.  She eventually meets retired Detective Reid, who has a formidable reputation with Scotland Yard, and the two try to uncover what Helen and another young woman seeking a degree in archaeology and whose body Reid inadvertently discovers on a beach in Kent, had in common.

I enjoyed this one, maybe not quite a believable murder mystery, but interesting characters and rather fun.  

NetGalley/Severn House
Historical Mystery.  Nov. 25, 2022.  Print length:  224 pages.

 “I used to steal magazines from a store on Genesee Street, in Waukegan, and read them and then steal them back on the racks again. That way I took the print off with my eyeballs and stayed honest. I didn’t want to be a permanent thief, and I was very careful to wash my hands before I read them.”Ray Bradbury



  1. I love the poems by Hardie that you referenced. I don't recall having heard of her before, but I'll definitely look up more of her poetry.

    Love that "ironic gift"!

    1. I may try another collection of her poetry. The Bird Woman was also full of imagery is one reason it has remained in my mind--I'm surprised she only wrote two novels.

  2. Isn't it wonderful when one thing leads you to the next in your reading? I haven't heard of Hardie's poetry before but the lines you shared are really powerful. Will have to look into her books. And, totally laughing over the gift not included :)

    1. Yes, the way one thing leads to another is one of the greatest pleasures of reading. I think "gift not included" is so funny and a perfect reminder of the importance of batteries when gift giving!

  3. I'm really curious about the Trow book because I had so much fun with his "The Black Hills" a couple of years ago. That one was a mystery involving U.S. Grant and General Custer...very cleverly written. This one sounds very different from that one, but still an interesting period.

    1. A history teacher and a crime writer--makes for an interesting combination. I just looked at some of his other books and was surprised at how many he's written!

  4. I love Hardie's poem Into the Light! And Four Thousand Days does sound like a fun read. I like that University setting. :)

    1. Into the Light has so much in so few lines. :)

  5. I've been interested in reading more poetry lately, so Hardie's book is very appealing to me. :)

    1. I love poetry. Rita Dove said, "Poetry is language at its most distilled and most powerful."

  6. I’m always eager to find new poetry I like. Hardie is new to me.

    1. Her poetic sensibilities were evident in her novel The Bird Woman, but I had not read her poetry until recently--so as a poet, she was new to me, too.

  7. I have never heard of Hardie, but I love the message in Real Estate. I'll have to look for her poetry tomorrow when I go to the library. Thanks, Jenclair!

    1. Since she has had so many awards and has written seven collections of poetry, I assume that this is one of those examples of her being well known in Ireland and Europe, but not so much in the U.S. That's true of many authors, but especially poets who rarely earn wide acclaim even when they receive praise from the critics.