Birdeye shows us what the hippy dream looks like fifty years on, when the secrets which were masked by free spirit and a determined nonconformism force their way to the surface.
Liv Ferrars is 67 years old and has lived a full life. Her twin daughters, Mary and Rose, are grown, she has survived breast cancer and she has welcomed numerous wanderers to the Birdeye Colony she founded with friends Sonny and Mishti over forty years before. Birdeye, once a pilgrimage-worthy commune in the Catskill Mountains of upstate New York, is now well past its heyday but Liv still holds the weekly Sharing with Mishti and Sonny, and Rose, whose additional needs mean she remains dependent on her mother.
Then one late winter’s morning a stranger named Conor appears. That same night Sonny and Mishti make a devastating announcement, and when Mary flies in from London to persuade Liv and Rose to move to England, Liv resists what others see as Birdeye’s inevitable collapse. Conor seems to offer a lifeline, but who is he and what are his motives? As the cracks in this once-haven begin to show, Liv is forced to reassess the foundations on which she has built her life.
‘With luminous prose, infinite humanity and exceptional storytelling, Heneghan shows us family – whether chosen or given – in all its fascinating complexity. Evocative, haunting, masterful.’ —Claire Fuller
‘This is a fascinating portrayal of Kiev and its people, written with skill, depth and sympathy but never shying away from darker facets. At its heart is the story of a marriage, of motherhood, and of a place contaminated by its terrible history. It is an alluring and gratifying read.’ —Jackie Law, neverimitate
‘This was a complex and compelling story and there is a sense of unease throughout, as we see a contrast between the mundane aspects of daily life and survival, and the threats that arise from a country’s recent troubles. And at the heart of it all there is a story of a marriage, and of motherhood, as Rachel is forced to confront her fears, both real and imagined, as she adapts to family life in a claustrophobic environment.’ —Nat Marshall, the owl on the bookshelf
‘★★★★★ Yes, this city of malaise does not make for a most joyful read, or particularly one you would dash to return to, but it’s a very interesting and clever read. With no narrative tricksiness it shows us the author’s knowledge of that time and place, and more importantly a wonderful character, one who struggles with her new-found family and her new-found sense of displacement. Rich and readable, this is well worth turning to.’ —John Lloyd, NB Magazine
‘Judith Heneghan paints a compassionate portrait of a young woman gripped by anxieties in an alien land. If only her mother, back in England, weren’t so critical. If only her husband weren’t so ambitious for his career. The novel’s tension lies in whether Rachel is under or overestimating the danger, and whether the marriage will survive. The claustrophobia and exhaustion of new motherhood echoes the pathos of a country in recovery from a traumatic past.’ —Anne Goodwin, Annecdotal
‘There is a very distinct and haunting sense of unease running throughout this book, which I love. I was constantly questioning every characters motives and behaviours. With an almost claustrophobic quality, Judith Heneghan’s story telling skills are superb. She crafts a very compelling story which builds tension at a perfect pace. Whilst this is a fascinating story of the people of Kiev, it’s social landscape and events of the time, it is ultimately a portrait of a marriage and motherhood, which held me captivated.’ —Amanda Chatterton, Bookish Chat