The Changeling of Finnistuath: A Novel

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9781590300480: The Changeling of Finnistuath: A Novel

Here, the author of the acclaimed Confessions of a Pagan Nun takes us to fourteenth-century Ireland for a strange and luminous tale of the elusive nature of identity and of triumph in adversity. The Changeling of Finnistuath is the story of Grey, a peasant girl who is raised as a boy, and who, until adolescence, never doubts herself to be male. The revelation of her womanhood marks the beginning of her journey—including son, whore, warrior, and mother—each of which brings its own special wisdom, but none of which, she discovers, can ultimately define her. In the course of her adventurous life, Grey deals with all the challenges of her tumultuous age—from political oppression to corrupt Church hierarchy to the horrors of the Black Death—ultimately finding peace and a kind of redemption by embracing the beautifully impermanent quality of identity that her unusual life has enabled her to understand.

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About the Author:

Kate Horsley lives in Albuquerque, New Mexico, and teaches creative writing at Central New Mexico Community College. A poet as well as a novelist, Horsley has a PhD in American Studies and has published five novels. Her book A Killing in a New Town was the winner of the 1996 Western States Book Award for Fiction. 

From Publishers Weekly:

Middlesex in the Middle Ages? Almost. In this complex, intelligent novel, Horsley tells the story of Grey, a 14th-century Irish peasant girl who, until adolescence, believed she was male. The youngest of eight daughters, Grey is passed off as a boy because her father, the half-witted Goatherd of Finnestuath, has vowed to kill the infant if it's a girl. Her mother, "fleabitten" Mary, raises Grey with all the extra attention, food and care befitting an only son, believing that Grey might be a changeling, a "boy without a cock." (Like her neighbors, Mary believes in fairies and demonic possession as much as she believes what the Catholic priests tell her.) As she grows up, Grey must endlessly recreate herself: first when the local priest snatches her from her family to be his assistant, later when she discovers she is female, then again when she becomes a monk's helper, pretending to be a deaf-mute, and a monastery whore. Later she becomes an unwed mother, and finally, the warrior she'd always dreamed of being. The only constant is Grey's strength and instinct for survival; she endures family tragedy, church corruption and the horrors of the Black Plague. While recounting the short, hard lives and tortuous times of the poor medieval Irish, Horsley also raises thought-provoking questions of religion and identity. Told with rich detail, warmth and wry wit, this is a full and well-researched tale with a compelling protagonist.
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