Bird Woman

Petra Finy
Novel (Libri), 2012, 320 pages

„Just a sick woman, who loves birds more than humans. Even more than she loves her own daughter.”

The mother of Lea Linger was a curious woman: an obsessed ornithologist, who escaped from her serious depression into the world of nature. Twenty years after her suicide, her daughter sets on a journey to visit her relatives and friends in order to come to terms with the story of her mother, while preparing herself too for motherhood. But the search delivers some unexpected results, and Lea has to face unearthed family secrets and mysteries she never dreamed of before.

In this debut novel of the young Hungarian author Petra Finy, the Hungarian flora and fauna are presented to the reader in extraordinary richness, telling a very human story in the language of nature. It is as if a complete biological encyclopaedia was incorporated into the book, giving the text an enchanting and very special athmosphere, since all the metaphores and images of the book are drawn from the world of insects, plants, animals, and most of all birds, giving a vast panorama of Central-European natural habitats.

But the story is not about birds, it’s about humans: throughout the different parts of the novel, Lea collects memories about her mother from very different characters ranging from her grandparents to her mother’s childhood friends and former husbands etc. Everyone has a different perspective on this extraordinary woman, who had a raven which accompanied her everywhere like a protective spirit, and who never hesitated to risk her life for a bird, even if this meant neglecting completely her child, or her family.

These different stories draw up an in-depth case study of clinical depression and the effect it has on people around the depressive person – but at the same time, they also tell the story of a daughter who has no choice but to love her mother, despite her stangeness and sometimes unexplicable behaviour. A beautiful, strange and heart-rending read, not only for obsessed naturalists.



“Finy cannot exist without the fairytale. Whatever she does, whatever she writes, fairytales come to life. Her words have magic power. She enchants, and is not only a storyteller, but an excellent poet too.”
Rozi Radics,

“The realest magic and the purest applied science come to life on the pages of this book to show us how desires and fears, happiness and sorrow, depths and heights, liberty and captivity work.”
Tamás Bauman,

“The characters use the thousand interesting phenomenons of nature for remembering: we get to know things about plants and animals that we are constantly surprised how many wonderful beings surround us.”
Krisztián Szilvási,


Petra Finy was born in 1978 in Budapest. Her first book, a collection of poetry, appeared in 2006. Since 2008, she has published ten successful children’s books, and became known as one of the most prolific and important authors for children. Bird Woman is her first novel for adults. Read more on the author

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

Create a free website or blog at

Up ↑

%d bloggers like this: