A somewhat heavy-handed second from Irish-American McBride (The Nature of Water and Air, 2001).
When Fiona O’Faolain moved from rural Ireland to Santa Fe, New Mexico, it wasn’t so much to get ahead in the world as to find out who she was. An illegitimate child, Fiona was fathered by a well-known photographer who had come to the American Southwest years before and made his reputation there. Although he helped support Fiona and her mother, Jane, while Fiona was a girl, he never married Jane—thus condemning her to the status of eccentric outsider in the rural village where she and Fiona lived. A gifted seamstress and lacemaker, Jane made a living by creating wedding dresses, and each masterwork only reinforced her disappointment at never becoming Ronan’s bride—to such an extent that she eventually married the dull Ned McGinty, who had been deeply in love with Jane for years. When Ronan dies and leaves part of his estate to Fiona, she moves to Santa Fe to open a dress shop of her own. There, she meets Carlos Aragon, a Spanish antiquities dealer who is restoring a 15th-century statue that had been carved to commemorate a ship that sank off the coast of Ireland with one of his ancestors aboard. According to family legend, Carlos’s ancestor had been rescued by a trio of women and literally nursed back to health on a remote island known as the Land of Women. As Carlos delves deeper into the mysteries of the statue and the doomed ship, Fiona’s thoughts turn back to her native land—and to Michael, her first love.
Moving along the romancer’s boundary between anger and nostalgia, Fiona’s story is, overall, well crafted and elegant, though it becomes a bit overdone and precious in the end.