The Paper Bracelet by @EnglishRachael ~ Every baby’s bracelet held a mother’s secret… #DualTimeline #BookReview #FridayReads

Author: Rachael English

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.

Book links ~ Amazon UK / Amazon US / Book Depository / Hive Books 

About the Author

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.

Author links ~ Facebook / Twitter

The Cottingley Secret by @HazelGaynor #BookReview #DualTimeline #Fairies #TuesdayBookBlog

Author: Hazel Gaynor

Published: January 2018 by HarperCollins

Category: Dual Timeline, Fairies, Myths, Book Review


1917… It was inexplicable, impossible, but it had to be true–didn’t it? When two young cousins, Frances Griffiths and Elsie Wright from Cottingley, England, claim to have photographed fairies at the bottom of the garden, their parents are astonished.

One hundred years later… When Olivia Kavanagh finds an old manuscript in her late grandfather’s bookshop she becomes fascinated by the story it tells of two young girls who mystified the world.

Being familiar with, and fascinated by, the story of the Cottingley fairies, I was looking forward to Hazel Gaynor’s re-imagining of this incredible tale based on true events. I wasn’t disappointed.

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#ThrowbackThursday ~ Abandon by Blake Crouch #Audiobook #Thriller #DualTimeline

This week I’m looking back at an audiobook I really enjoyed. Abandon by Blake Crouch, released in September 2016. Luke Daniels did an amazing job with the narration.

My Thoughts

The story begins in 1893 with a mule skinner arriving in Abandon to find a ghost town. He’d been there only two weeks ago delivering supplies and the town was thriving and full of activity. Now the streets were deserted with the snow laying in drifts. Then he sees a young girl with a revolver, and it’s the last thing he ever sees.

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The Memory by Judith Barrow ~ Irene’s Story #FamilySaga #Fiction @judithbarrow77 #FridayReads @honno

Author: Judith Barrow 

Published: March 2020 by Honno Press

Category: Family Saga, Dual Timeline, Fiction, Book Review


Today has been a long time coming. Irene sits at her mother’s side waiting for the right moment, for the point at which she will know she is doing the right thing by Rose.

Rose was Irene’s little sister, an unwanted embarrassment to their mother Lilian but a treasure to Irene. Rose died thirty years ago, when she was eight, and nobody has talked about the circumstances of her death since. But Irene knows what she saw. Over the course of 24 hours their moving and tragic story is revealed – a story of love and duty, betrayal and loss – as Irene rediscovers the past and finds hope for the future.

The Memory tells Irene’s story from her perspective, alternating between then and now. Beginning in the now, the story gives an immediate sense of Irene’s life. It’s not at all what she envisioned for herself all those years ago, as she struggles with her full time role as a carer for her mother, with all that entails when someone is incapable of doing anything for themselves.

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