Alibi V.12 No.32 • Aug 7-13, 2003 

Art Article

Past and Present

Land of Women

Regina McBride
Touchstone
paper
$13

I've never forgotten this phrase from the film Magnolia: "We may be through with the past, but the past isn't through with us."

In Land of Women, Regina McBride confirms that the past is never completely gone because it always resurrects itself through strange encounters and sudden recollections of the relationships and experiences that affect our lives. At least this is the case with Fiona O' Faolain, McBride's protagonist. Land of Women takes you on a magical journey through Fiona's life in two lands, Roundstone, Ireland and Santa Fe, New Mexico.

Fiona starts off the story by remembering her last summer in Ireland, which included her first sexual experience, her first heartache, friendships, new beginnings and disappointments. From then on, the author fluctuates between the past and present. A dreaded phone call causes Fiona to recall the days she spent with her mother Jane in Ireland and how the experiences she had during her last summer in Ireland caused her to begin a new life in New Mexico while never completely forgetting the past and her hometown.

Fiona grows through her experiences, discovering the beauty and harsh reality of life. In Fiona's life, myth and reality are combined. In the end, the two merge into one as her past and present intertwine with each other. Fiona and her present love interest, Carlos, discover things about themselves and their past through each other.

McBride's writing is full of vivid imagery as she transports you into Fiona's world. She deals with harsh subjects and love in its many forms and disguises, incorporating a series of complex characters who indirectly affect Fiona's life.

McBride goes into particularly great detail about the relationship between Fiona and her mother, Jane. Jane is a women looking for love, affection and a sense of belonging, and she takes drastic measures to find these things. The love/hate relationship between mother and daughter has a profound effect on Fiona's life.

The past ties in with the present and at the end, there appears to be a glimmer of hope. Suddenly, Fiona begins to understand the things that upset her. She lets go of her fears, and Carlos succeeds in giving her a new lease on life.

McBride, who grew up in Santa Fe, also lived in Ireland for a short time. In the book, McBride depicts vivid scenes of the lush Irish landscape and the mesas, mountains and deserts of New Mexico. Anyone who lives in New Mexico will recognize the landscapes McBride describes and the culture and history of Santa Fe.

Land of Women is about growth, hardships and coping with the cards you've been dealt. It is definitely not a light summer read, but it should appeal to anyone looking for a story with spiritual and emotional depth.