The Whipping Club by Deborah Henry
My rating: 3 of 5 stars
From the book:
Deborah Henry's new historical novel, THE WHIPPING CLUB (T.S Poetry Press, March 2012, available in print and e-book formats) is a literary page-turner and a tale of redemption, set against the backdrop of violence and deeply entrenched prejudice in 1960s Ireland as told through the heartrending experience of one inter-faith family. In it, an Irish Catholic woman, Marian, in love with a Jewish journalist hides the birth of her out-of-wedlock child to save her future marriage. The child she has relinquished does not end up with an American family as promised. Instead, he is committed to a notorious Catholic orphanage where there is little hope for his survival.
Tormented by feelings of remorse and guilt that have plagued her throughout her marriage to the boy's father, the woman must confront the truth and reveal her long-buried secret. While putting her marriage and family at risk, she determines to save her son and in so doing correct the terrible wrongs of her own past and challenge a system that chronically serves up children to abusive clergy.
This was a very interesting read for me, something that was completely outside of my comfort zone.
I felt that the author did a very good job of developing her characters from the good Catholic mother Marian, the Jewish father Ben, sister Johanna and Adrian, the child that was given away. It was easy to relate to their personalities and behaviors. The story begins with Marian being rejected by Ben's mother and deciding to enter a "convent" to deal with the baby she felt was unwanted. As the story goes on, it's revealed that Ben knows more than he let on. Johanna, the "kept" child, begins to sense that there's something going on and gets involved when she overhears some conversations. Adrian has no clue that he has a family and it comes a surprise when they come to visit. Unfortunately this is not a happily ever after story and there are quite a few horrible scenarios spelled out.
I thought the book was a bit long. It took 40 chapters (although some were really short) to get to the point of the title. I think the story could have been told in much less words. I related to the characters and enjoyed the development of the personalities. I did think this was something that could and probably did happen during the time period related to the book. Overall, I thought the book was well done and the story was told in an engaging manner.
I received the galley of this book from the publisher on NetGalley, for the purpose of review. Opinions expressed are my own.
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