I’ve just been reminded that Rosie’s Book Review Team is six years old! That means BetweenTheLines is also six years old. I joined the team a few months after I began my blog and am still enjoying the experience. Rosie does a great job coordinating everything and many books have come my way that I probably would have missed otherwise, and more than a few authors have become firm favourites, such as Terry Tyler, Carol Hedges, Adrienne Vaughan, Liza Perrat…the list goes on.
Published: February 2020 by Hatchette Books Ireland
Category: Dual Timeline, Historical, Contemporary, Book Review
For almost fifty years, Katie Carroll has kept a box tucked away inside her wardrobe. It dates from her time working as a nurse in a west of Ireland mother and baby home in the 1960s. The box contains a notebook holding the details of the babies and young women she met there. It also holds many of the babies’ identity bracelets.
The Paper Bracelet is inspired by true events, namely the harsh way unmarried mothers were treated, not only in Ireland where this story is set, but further afield as well. For a long time nothing was known about the injustices and heartbreak women suffered in mother and baby homes, run by nuns for women, and sometimes including young abused girls, whose families didn’t want the shame or stigma of an unmarried and pregnant daughter. Rachael English tells this heartbreaking story extremely well and with empathy.
The story unfolds, alternating between ‘then’ and the young women, who are not even allowed to use their own names, in Carrigbrack, and ‘now’ when we meet Katie Carrol, a former nurse in the mother and baby home. ‘Patricia’ waits for the parish priest to transport her to the home, unaware of the fate that awaits her.
The questions, the looks zipping between her parents, her mother’s weeping, her father’s controlled fury; they’d all blurred together. She regretted not running away. She’d considered getting the bus and boat to London, but she knew no one there, and the few pounds she’d saved wouldn’t have lasted long.
Katie Carrol, nearing seventy, is grieving after recently losing her husband. She is at a loss what to do next as the friends and neighbours who have been there with help and support, move on with their own lives. Her niece, a box of tiny identity bracelets and a diary give her a purpose and a long overdue opportunity to help those adoptees who are interested in searching for their birth mothers.
That the story came from several perspectives—someone who worked in a mother and baby home, the mothers themselves as well as some of the children who were adopted—gives a rounded view of events and how they affected individuals. Treated like slaves by so called ‘Christian’ nuns, the women were forced into manual labour in the fields and back breaking work in a steaming laundry until they were about to give birth. To make a bad situation even worse, they had to stay at the home until they’d worked long enough to pay off their ‘debt’.
Even if a mother loved and wanted to keep her child, wishes and pleas were dismissed out of hand and children were taken forcibly and the mothers were warned of the legalities if they even attempted to find their children.
‘That’s a dangerous notion,’ said Agnes, a flare of anger in her voice, ‘and one you’d do well to forget. We can’t allow silly young girls to harm innocent children. As for earning a living: what respectable employer would give work to the mother of an illegitimate child? And what about the good Catholic couples who can’t have children of their own? Have you thought about them? Should they be made to suffer?’ She gave a brisk shake of her round head. ‘Tell me, where does a girl from a decent family hear such ludicrous ideas?’
Rachael English has done a wonderful job of bringing these women to life, and showing that not quite all the nuns were lacking in kindness, decency and sympathy for the plight of the women. What horrors people inflict upon one another in the name of religion astounds and appalls. A powerful, poignant and compelling story.
I’m the author of five novels (so far): Going Back which was shortlisted for the most-promising newcomer award at the 2013 Bord Gáis Irish Book Awards, Each and Every One, The American Girl which was a number one best-seller in Ireland, The Night of the Party, and The Paper Bracelet. Like many authors, I also have a day job. I’m a presenter on RTE Radio 1’s Morning Ireland.
As part of the book birthday blitz, organised by Rachel’s Random Resources, I have a guest post from Aaron Hodges about travelling and fantasy writing
So if you don’t know too much about me, probably the first thing you should know is that I’m a traveller. In the last six years, I have spent 80% of my time outside of my home country of New Zealand, and have to date visited over 50 different nations. I love the backpacker life, the excitement of meeting new people and exploring new cities and landscapes (of course, this was all before covid19). And while this lifestyle is only possible because I am lucky enough to have a job as a writer that allows me to work from anywhere, I’ve found more often than not that my travels have also helped to inspire my writing.
The opportunity of a lifetime might get her killed.
When her boss comes down with a bout of food poisoning, lowly corporate accountant Lauren gets an offer she can’t refuse: Take his place at an exclusive team-building retreat with senior management.
The retreat is held at a remote lodge, and the rules are strict: No cell phones, no computers, and no contact with the outside world. Events take a sinister turn when a freak snowstorm leaves them trapped far from civilization…and Lauren discovers they aren’t alone in the wilderness.
An unavoidable last minute change of plan means Lauren Alexander joins a corporate team building retreat at a remote lodge in the middle of a national forest. It’s the chance to further her career if she can ingratiate herself into the tight circle of senior management. The four founders—Adam, Melissa, Yasmine and Rick—had built Agonarch Herbal Supplements into a successful company and were long standing friends since their college days. In charge of activities, catering, allocating the individual cabins for sleeping and basically anything else that was needed is Tiffany.
Welcome to my stop on the blog tour for Broken Silence, courtesy of Rachel’s Random Resources.
Liz Mistry has kindly written a guest post discussing themes in Broken Silence.
Over to Liz…
The title Broken Silence is appropriate for this novel in so many ways. The themes in the novel are diverse, but each theme is about the adverse impact of silence on individuals and how important breaking the silence can be. So, I’d like to talk a little about some of the themes in Broken Silence.
Today, I have a guest post from Ken Toppell. First though, here’s the book info. Second Cousin Once Removed is due for release on the 8th September
Henry Atkinson’s boring life as an attorney comes to a screeching halt one day when idle research into his own family tree results in the discovery of a distant relative-with a criminal record. Henry suddenly finds himself on the run from this mysterious cousin, wondering who he is, what he wants with Henry, and whether Henry himself will survive to see the next day.
When my granddaughter became a teenager, I started thinking about what I could give her. I didn’t know if she was into perfumes or jewelry, especially since her idea of getting dressed up was a pair of jeans with holes in them. She’s the youngest in the family and, as the oldest, I realized I could gift her with family memories.
Due to be Published by Perfectly Proper Press on 14th July
Category: Victorian Romance, Book Review
After a mysterious sojourn in Paris, Beryl Burnham has returned home to the village of Shepton Worthy ready to resume the life she left behind. Betrothed to the wealthy Sir Henry Rivenhall, she has no reason to be unhappy—or so people keep reminding her. But Beryl’s life isn’t as perfect as everyone believes.
As village curate, Mark Rivenhall is known for his compassionate understanding. When his older brother’s intended needs a shoulder to lean on, Mark’s more than willing to provide one. There’s no danger of losing his heart. He already lost that to Beryl a long time ago.
It’s a long time since I read a Victorian romance so this proved to be a nice change. The story opens as Beryl Burnham and her Aunt Hortensia arrive home after spending the past year in Paris. The reason for the trip isn’t revealed until later in the story and creates much empathy for Beryl. The first thing Beryl does on reaching Shepton Worthy is to pay her respects to the curate, Mark Rivenhall, when she notices the church doors are open, signalling Mark was there. He was soon to become her brother-in-law as Beryl was betrothed to Sir Henry Rivenhall.
Throwback Thursday this week looks back at a wonderful selection of short stories published in June 2016. Some serious, some raising a smile or a laugh, taking snippets from people’s lives.
This collection of short stories is a little gem. It runs the spectrum of emotions from differing points of view and age ranges, from the most joyful high to the depths of sorrow – emotional, sensitive, moving and tender. The stories convey sentiments we can all relate to and appreciate. There are sketches from all sorts of situations and each gives pause for thought. I enjoyed them all. Here’s just a very small taste, there are lots more.
Category: Contemporary Fiction, Romantic Comedy, Book Review
For Sarah Peterson, it’s time for change. Coming out of a dead end relationship and having had enough of city life, she just needs to escape and have a fresh start – a new job, a new home and a new lifestyle. So when her Auntie Kay unexpectedly offers her the opportunity to take over her flower shop, Seaside Blooms, the timing could not be more perfect. She could escape to the beautiful seaside town of Whitsborough Bay, start a new chapter in her life – and learn how to run a business!
After three years Sarah is finally disillusioned with her commitment shy and insensitive partner Jason, and decides to call it a day. Leaving London for a weekend trip to her home town of Whitsborough Bay she’s sorry her parents are away for the weekend, but she can catch up with her Auntie Kay. Kay owns and runs Seaside Blooms and Sarah has happy memories of helping in the flower shop. Little does she realise the shop would soon be hers and her home would be back in Whitsborough Bay.