About the Book
A heartbreaking letter. A girl locked away. A mystery to be solved.
1956. When Ivy Jenkins falls pregnant she is sent in disgrace to St Margaret’s, a dark, brooding house for unmarried mothers. Her baby is adopted against her will. Ivy will never leave.
Present day. Samantha Harper is a journalist desperate for a break. When she stumbles on a letter from the past, the contents shock and move her. The letter is from a young mother, begging to be rescued from St Margaret’s. Before it is too late.
Sam is pulled into the tragic story and discovers a spate of unexplained deaths surrounding the woman and her child. With St Margaret’s set for demolition, Sam has only hours to piece together a sixty-year-old mystery before the truth, which lies disturbingly close to home, is lost for ever…
Read her letter. Remember her story…
With thanks to the publisher for the copy received. Like many people I was aware of places like the Magdalene Laundries and the stories attached to them. I have a vague memory of a similar establishment in the town I grew up in. Hopefully it was nothing like St Margaret’s.
The Girl in the Letter is a heartbreaking fictionalised account of two girls who spent time there in the 1950s. One is Ivy, whose child was taken away from her and the other is Elvira, a child who was returned when an adoption went wrong. Ivy tries her best to look after Elvira. After finding letters from Ivy years later, Sam who is a journalist wants to know more.
The novel goes back and forth in time between 1956 and 2017. Part of Ivy’s tale is told by letters, it is hers that Sam has read. But there are also flashbacks to those connected to the events that happened. The priest, nuns (it’s easy to see why so many people fear them), the doctors, social workers and the girls themselves. What the girls, some as young as fifteen were put through was horrific, the cruelty shown by those who could have done better was devastating.
At times it was difficult to read, seeing the heartbreak of the young mothers had their children taken away for a ‘better life’. Sadly not many did.
Some of the accounts from those connected did show remorse but not enough. Some only thought about how they would look if they were found out. I did work out the connection between the 1950s and 2017, I don’t think it was a secret but I found it fascinating how close-knit it was. I ached for some happiness, and the relationship between Nana, Sam and Emma provided some. It showed how a family could be without interference from others. It also showed how many lives were ruined due to those who feel the need to judge.
Even though this is fiction the reader is aware that these events and worse did happen. It made me wonder if those who were responsible did show remorse and how many lives were ruined because of their actions.
A novel that is full of bitterness, fear and regret but also one that gave hope for better understanding and a willingness to talk and show love.