1985 is not really a very long time ago. The way the story unfolds however it seems like the Middle Ages.
Bill Furlong his wife and family live in Ireland minding their own business. He supplies coal and kindling
to everyone around, is a fair businessman and a steady family man. His focus is on building up his business
and providing for his wife and children.
The convent in their midst is one of the features of Irish life. Strong Catholic links everyone in these parts
but though others are aware of what goes on Bill seemed to have been a bit oblivious. The Magdalene laundries
are infamous and after having read one account of it, I would not have picked this one up if it was too descriptive
of these places but it was not so.
On a visit to supply coal and kindling to the Convent, Bill is faced with a small view of what actually goes on
in these places but he closes his eyes to it and returns home. It weighs heavily on his mind though. His wife just
wants him to forget what he saw because she knows interference with the workings of the Convent will have a huge
repercussion on the family. The power of the Church was widespread, and vindictive. (at the time in Ireland).
The story is very touching, and emotional. It is also quite precise and not long winded.
Though the subject is a tough one, the feeling of being humane and compassionate are all encompassing in this read.
Sent by Grove Atlantic for an unbiased review, courtesy of Netgalley.