Just like Peter Mullan did in 2002 with The Madeleine sisters, the Irish woman of letters Claire Keegan looked in her way on the sad affair of the convents of the Madeleine.
Even if it is not very thick, the new novel by Claire Keegan leaves its mark for a long time once read. Because it is very, very nicely written, but above all because the “dysfunction” that he so delicately denounces caused a scandal some thirty years ago.
Before even starting to tell us her story, Claire Keegan also wanted to underline in epigraph that it was dedicated to the women and children who had been locked up and exploited in the convents of the Madeleine, in Ireland. A situation that the mother of Bill Furlong, the hero of her story, could also easily have known if, after becoming pregnant at the age of 16, a Protestant widow with a big heart had not agreed to take her into her home.
Now an adult – the story takes place in 1985 – Bill Furlong owns a wood and coal depot in the small port town of New Ross, Ireland. A job that allows him to decently meet the needs of his wife and their five daughters, but which, around Christmas, obliges him to make almost all the deliveries himself. This is how he will end up going to the convent of the nuns of the Good Shepherd where, despite himself, he will witness a scene which will disturb him to the highest degree. But, as soon as he talks about what he saw to his wife, she will be the first to advise him not to interfere.
After all, aren’t nuns better placed than anyone to properly care for young single mothers?
Natasha Kumar has been a reporter on the news desk since 2018. Before that she wrote about young adolescence and family dynamics for Styles and was the legal affairs correspondent for the Metro desk. Before joining The Times Hub, Natasha Kumar worked as a staff writer at the Village Voice and a freelancer for Newsday, The Wall Street Journal, GQ and Mirabella. To get in touch, contact me through my firstname.lastname@example.org 1-800-268-7116