Megan Harlan
October 06, 2000 AT 04:00 AM EDT

The Burning of Bridget Cleary

type
Book
Current Status
In Season
author
Angela Bourke
publisher
Viking
genre
Occult and Paranormal, Nonfiction

We gave it an A-

Fusing a true-crime saga with rich cultural history, Angela Bourke’s The Burning of Bridget Cleary explores an 1895 murder in Ireland’s County Tipperary. Bridget Cleary, 26, bedridden with the flu, was burned to death by her husband — while the family looked on — when they all became convinced that fairies had transformed the young woman into an evil ”changeling.” The resulting murder trial provided ample opportunity for English officials to demonize all Irish as savages. But historian Bourke brings to life the schism between modern, literate thinking and traditional oral folk beliefs, showing how each can express and conceal unspeakable impulses and acts. A-

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