Western Europeans made up a good many of immigration into the United States – and here we have Fiona, who has left Ireland after a very tough beginning. Forced to marry at a young age, she escapes a bad situation and learns a little more of the finer ways of life. She sets her sights on America and sails across the Atlantic, she finds herself useful to ailing passengers on the ship that end up bringing rewards. She hopes to succeed in her new country.

And how she does! She is aboard a steamship, spends some time as a servant, and suddenly, through a chance meeting, she becomes an actress of renown. Life, however, finds some sour cherries in the bowl – Fiona falls into a nasty situation that requires her to leave New York and head west. She encounters more acting opportunities that find her back on ship … this time, it is a brand-new Paddle Wheel boat on its virgin voyage down the Mississippi.

But again, the sour cherries appear. Her past – some of it from Ireland, some from New York, catches up with her. She finds herself in the midst of some dealings ‘under the table’ with gun runners and smugglers.

Fortunately, our pretty Fiona is clever and confident and smart. Her interactions with the characters of the book reveal all these traits, and more. Her natural acting skills impress the theatre impresarios and wow the audiences. Her conversations with her acting friends and those she meets along the way are witty and bright. She finds love. She finds hate, both at a personal level and at a cultural level. She finds traitors. In the end, she becomes part of the key that settles the book into its conclusion.

The settings vary so very much – a sod hut, old Irish villages, the glory of a thriving New York City. Chicago, just recovering from Mrs. O’Leary’s cow and its fire, is a source of culture for Fiona. The paddle wheeler is a shiny, brand-new river craft that for its day is state of the art, right down to its jewel box of a theatre and its calliope that announces its arrival in each town.

Characters abound as well – a disrespectful husband, nurses and teachers, crafty theatre producers, patrons of the arts who are secretly patrons of something other than the arts, ship captains (one who secrets that are quite interesting), fellow actors and actresses – all in a range from big-hearted people to self-centered divas that dwell only on their own value.

THE WIND AT HER BACK is a trek in the life of our Irish immigrant Fiona. But there is no mistake – she is headed for surprises, intrigue and even murder as she tries to build her fruitful life in America.