Yet it was his eye, or both of them, that attracted the most notice and gossip- their unnerving brilliance. It was hungry and restless; and it earned him his nickname.
In this fairytale for grownups, an American schoolteacher (spinster, nay old maid) Miss Eva Williams, falls under the spell of the Hawkman, Mr. Michael Evan Sheehan. Sheehan is suffering from the torments of the war, including his time of imprisonment. His vagabond ways have damned him as an outcast, and his yellowing, ‘hungry and restless’ eyes make him more birdlike than human. Mrs. Sheehan knows there is more to the man, tormented by children’s taunts, rocks and even attempts at poisoning. He is more than a scavenger, certainly not a threat when he doesn’t fight back, though the children’s cruelty would deserve a firm punishment in a better world. She herself is a misfit in England, a foreigner, teaching at a lady’s college, horror of all horrors she is on the shelf and unmarrie, progressive (never a welcome trait in a woman bygone times). He becomes her cause.
Lord Thornton wants nothing more than his world to return to the normality of before the war. The Hawkman is a reminder, a constant stench of war and all its horrors. To make his village safe and ‘clean’ for it’s young ladies seems to be his sole purpose, ridding it of such scavengers as Sheehan. The villagers, especially his son Christopher( recovering after his own war wounds) are in compliance to Lord Thornton’s plans, but not Miss Williams. Even Thornton’s wife, Lady Margaret wants nothing more than to be ‘ride’ of the Hawkman. Miss Williams has a far better understanding of the ‘protagonist’ of various countries and sees in the Hawkman no difference. Sifting through the fears and myths, she sees past the ‘filth’ and reclusive behaviors for what they are the reactions of a broken, damaged man.
Eyes wide open, Eva invites Mr. Sheehan into her world with empathy and compassion. She goes gently with him, as one might a wounded animal. She sees the man, not the myth. Hiding him in the cottage won’t last, but she will not be cowed or bullied into giving up on him. When she comes to need him, one wonders just who needs salvation. With war weaved into the story, it is a unique twist on modern fairy tales and the true shame and horror is that people always find ways to invent monsters, to condemn those who need the most help to the shadows.
A quiet, yet moving tale.
Publication Date: June 5, 2018