The Magdalen Girls
In this novel set in Dublin in 1962, the lives of two girls change drastically when they become outcasts because of society rules and expectations. Teagan Tiernan, after a misunderstanding with a young, attractive priest is wrongly accused of seducing him. Her parents believing the lie throw her away, erasing her existence.
Nora Craven finds herself in a similar situation, disgraced and thrown out of her home becoming one of The Magdalens. Both are taken to live with the Sisters of Holy Redemption, where they are renamed, told not to speak, barely fed, and have their hair shorn and clothes taken away, and are dressed in plain dresses and aprons. They are made to work in a laundry all day in squalid conditions. They are little more than prisoners, property of the Sisters, who unfailingly strive to break their spirits and drum religion into them. The institution is run by a Mother Superior who is haunted by her past and ruthlessly inflicts cruel punishments on them in the name of love. Yet Nora and Teagan form a bond that gets them through. Their tale unfolds sorrows and mistreatment of the time, but also tells of redemption and triumph over hate. Even when a secret is revealed that upends the world of one girl further, she remains steadfast. These institutions were all too real in 1962 and were in existence up until 1996. Through the trials of each girl, characters are unearthed, showing their true strength. Written beautifully and with much emotion, The Magdalen Girls is a triumph.
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