TULLAMORE-based ecologist Catherine Wilkie will launch her debut novel, 'The Easter Snow' in Midland Books, Tullamore this evening (Wednesday, May 15, 6.30pm).
Ms Wilkie (nee Farrell), is a mother of two and native of Co Westmeath who formerly worked for Bord na Mona.
The book was inspired by her bachelor granduncle's admission to a nursing home following a stroke.
Ms Wilkie writes of the Irish Midlands in the 1940s and 1950s where unimaginable things like arranged marriages were part of the norm and where your destiny, especially if you were female, was written largely by the number of acres of good land you carried and/or the man you married.
On the first page of 'The Easter Snow' we meet Marianne – a woman who escaped that fate, and yet she has returned – the draw of home.
Soon after we meet Lily, a woman of more recent generation struggling to find the balance between mothering and career, surrender and control. Their stories are intertwined, though worlds apart.
Taking cover from a snow shower in spring close to her home on the outskirts of Tullamore planted the seed of the story in the author's mind and in 'The Easter Snow', as snowdrops give way to bluebells, daily life and the healing force of time re-awakens the spirit of Marianne and Lily.
The novel also tells the story of the love between a brother and sister, Liam and Mary Ann, separated in childhood and separated from their home, the countryside and small fields around them, and trips to mass and market.
The author Catherine, grew up in a rural community (her father Gerry Farrell was a dairy farmer and chair of Westmeath Co-Op) where family and community is the grounding force.
As an ecologist, she endeavours to combine creativity and working with nature alongside the day-to-day adventures of ordinary life.
The author is deeply connected to the landscape, with a strong appreciation for the role we play as custodians and stewards of change in this world.