Hard cover, dust jacket, 6 x 9, 440 pgs.
Season: Fall, 2005
Selections from the novel
Opening paragraph, Chapter 1
“Nikki Helmik, forty years old, huddled her face in her coat collar, far enough away from the black-clad mourners gathered in a dark clutch near the pit of the grave so they wouldn’t notice her. She lowered her umbrella until her view of the burial was compressed. Her nose and mouth were red-lined with grief as she clutched in her pocket the stump of a dried rose the dead man had once given her. As an unusually warm January mist was veiling softly, the mourners held their umbrellas uncertainly, some aloft, some folded at their sides. A great wintery oak clawed the massive air above the grave, blasted grey, its bark slick as a seal in the mist. Nikki watched Rose, Ernest Eveless’ widow, head bowed, toss a red rose into the grave on top of the descending casket. It was the most ornate—gaudy, in fact—casket Nikki had ever seen, made of cherry wood with curlicued, solid-brass handles, hinges, and medallions all over it. But that was Rose all over—ostentation. Let everyone in Gloucester know you are rich, even if (assuming the rumors were true) your dead husband had lost most of his money when his fishing business went under and left you with only that huge granite house on the hill.”
from Chapter 8
“Anne’s journal is a love story, isn’t it?” Nikki mused, smiling distantly, no longer worried about direct answers. Her brow darkened. “But it’s her love story.”
“Hers, mine, ours,” Joe recited, shrugging. “One net catches all fish.” He smiled as a wisp of spittle collected on his lower lip. “These are not our woods,” he quoted again, more obscurely.
Catching his gaze nonetheless, Nikki returned it in kind. He understood. She sat back and considered. All the while they spoke, a kind of word magic was working its spell. A spell of words, more subliminal and more substantial, maybe even longer lasting, than an everyday spell for money or healing. Anne’s words were transfiguring the woods, touching the delicate falling leaves with the rose edge of spirit, so that Nikki felt as if she were walking through a poem.
Chapter 8, closing
She sat silently regarding the pages piled before her, then picked up the broken brooch again, now understanding that it had been deliberately broken. Still, she wondered how it was that Philip had come by the broken piece, even if now she had a hint from Anne.
The jewel box of Anne Cleves’ journal had opened at last.
from Chapter 9
“This memory returned only much later, long after I was a grown woman, during my initiation with the old Druid Ganieda. It was then, when I gazed into the Boyne, that a vision of the past swam to the surface:
“How high I held my head even as I saw the gleam of the knife edge, unafraid to pass through the darkness. Into the smoke of the sacrificial fire where I lay burning a small girl stuck her head, and I entered her womb.
“As our Raven tribe sailed up the Boyne we hearkened closely to the voices of the land, uncertain whether our Gods and Goddesses would speak to us so far from our home in Eire. Oaks and rowan trees grew thick as flies along the bank, come to watch us pass in our boat.”