The Migrant Painter Of Birds
The setting of this extraordinary novel is an old farmhouse in Portugal - a house far enough from the Atlantic not to hear the breaking waves during a storm but near enough for the walls to be corroded by the salt in the air.
With most members of her large family having left the hardship of life in this landscape of sand and stone for jobs in faraway places, a young woman struggles to piece together her past from the many and differing stories she is told. Left behind by a free-spirited, feckless father, a seducer with a talent for drawing, she is raised by her uncle who has married her mother. The only memories of her father's one brief visit are the echoes of his footsteps on the stairs leading to her room. The only signs of him are letters from the widest reaches of the world- letters accompanied by brilliantly coloured drawings of exotic birds: the cuckoo from India, the ibis from Mozambique, the goose from Labrador, the hummingbird from the West Indies. The daughter longs for her father and, as she grows up, she is determined to find him and uncover the truth.
Beautifully written and imagined, this strikingly lyrical novel evokes the atmosphere of a rural community in a changing world and explores the timeless themes of family, independence, and the often painful experience of emigration.