Publisher: Little, Brown and Company. A trademark of Hachette Book Group, Inc.
Genre: Fiction, Mystery
Rating: Very Good
Mid 1800s. Ireland.
Lib Wright, age 29, is an English nurse. Lib travels to the center area of the country of Ireland. She has taken a nursing duty to observe an Irish female child who is fasting. After the child turned 11, she stopped eating. It has been four months. Lib is Protestant. She is surrounded by Catholics. The child's family, village, and church believe the fasting is a miracle. Lib decides she will discover the reason the child is fasting and if she really is indeed fasting.
What I did not like is Lib's snarky attitude and words against the Irish people. Lib comes across as prejudice, judgmental, and haughty. However, the author uses this as a form of opposition. The main opposition is of course the child not eating.
The young girl is Anna O'Donnell. She is a "quiet pious girl." It is easy to believe this child is an innocent victim, but who is the perpetrator?
Lib and another nurse take shifts watching Anna. While watching Anna, their eyes do not stray.
The doctor who sent for Lib in England often visits the child. He is as perplexed as Lib.
I found it interesting what Lib as a nurse (during this time period) understood about the human body. She had trained under Florence Nightingale. Lib is a person of science. She has a good eye and sharp mind; plus a strong sense of loyalty.
I'm not shocked at the revealing of the mystery. Anna had contact with few people.
What I loved most about the story is the unusual nature of the situation: a female child, on the cusp of adolescence, who has stopped eating. A secondary reason is the Irish characters have a mix of Catholicism and superstition. Their rationalizing of the child's situation left me scratching my head.