The Nature of Water and Air by Regina McBride


*** Though my reading life started in 2013, I have read good books prior to that, that I want to highlight here on my blog. For today and in some future posts, allow me to look back on those books, as I truly want to make them part of my blog. ***



  • “The Nature of Water and Air” by Regina McBride
  • ISBN: 0743203232 / ISBN13: 9780743203234
  • Number of Pages: 320
  • Publisher: Touchstone
  • Publication Date: 02 May 2001 (first published 2000)
  • Date Read: 31 October 2012
  • Format and Source: Paperback, own copy – bought from Pure Gold Duty Free (Subic)
  • Rating: ★★★


“My mother was never easy in the world of houses. She was a tinker, a traveler girl who had married a wealthy man. Her name was Agatha Sheehy….There are silences all around my mother’s story.”

So begins The Nature of Water and Air, set on a patch of Irish coast where, amid a flurry of whispers, we meet Agatha’s only surviving daughter, Clodagh. Determined to secure her mother’s elusive love and the truth about her, Clodagh is swept into a relationship with a handsome, isolated man. He brings her to the heart of her mother’s story, where she must confront the questions “Does a truth change love?” and “What madness will come from chasing a secret?”


I felt afraid that the curtain between worlds was not sufficient. Air blew things in and away and water exiled its creatures onto dry land and rushed away from them. It seemed to be the nature of water and air, to be random, heartless.

The year was 2010. I, together with my mom and her colleagues, were on an out of town trip, and before traveling back to Manila, we did a side trip to the Duty-Free Store. It was there that I got to see a bookcase, and the books were sold at 100 pesos, buy 1 get 1. It was a time when I told myself I would teach myself to read books, and chose to buy this book. It was the first novel I have read after I was done with college, and it wasn’t easy. I would read five chapters in one sitting and forget it…then I would start again.

Of all the books I have read, this was the one that took the longest time to read – It took me two years to finish this novel, and it was only when I brought this book during a trip to my paternal hometown in 2012, that I was able to finish it. Aside from feeling victorious by accomplishing something, I was very happy that I got to read to this book. The writing was beautiful, and though the span of the whole novel was so long and the pacing was a little slow, there was this sense of satisfaction finishing the novel.

From what I gathered, Regina McBride is known to be a poet and this was her first novel. I guess her being a poet contributed a lot to the wonderful writing of the novel. It painted a wonderful view of the Irish countryside, that reading it made me feel as if I was there – admiring the view, dancing with the gypsies, and choosing among the trinkets for sale. If this was a movie, it definitely had a wonderful cinematography.

The characters in the novel were well developed, and it allowed me to feel all sorts of emotions towards the main character – Clodagh. Reading the book made me feel as if I grew upwith her, as if she was my friend. However, I felt pity for her – having to fight for her mother’s approval and not receiving it caused her to get lost with her identity.

The book had a very twisted twist, something I never thought would happen, but even if I got angry at this twist (because I was caught off guard), I understood it and it intensified my feelings towards Clodagh’s character. It broke my heart, it made me sad, but at the same time, part of me understood her actions. Reflecting on it, I realized just how “empty” Agatha (the mother) left Clodagh, and when the story was finished – even if I didn’t quite like how it ended – I could only wish Clodagh would find her own identity, something that is completely hers and not in the shadows of her mother, her twin sister, and her father.

If you want a wonderfully weaved story, something that would stir your mind and emotions, I recommend you to pick this up. This might be a long read, but it was worth the time.


This entry was posted in 2000s Book List, Book Talk, European Literature. Bookmark the permalink.

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