The Whipping Club by Deborah Henry

Leah Courtney
Rarely do I begin a book that I do not finish. Call it my obsessive compulsive streak.  Call me a glutton for punishment.  Whatever the reason, I usually do not stop reading a book until the last page is turned- even when it is painful.  And I don't think I've ever not read the whole story of a book I am reviewing for a publisher.  But, I must confess that The Whipping Club may be the first one.

I tried.  Really, I did.  The plot sounded like a read that I would enjoy: 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.


But, the reality was much different.  The story moved back and forth between Marian's past and the present and was very hard to follow.  In some of the pre release or early release books that I review, there are problems with formatting.  Usually I can just overlook those and realize that they will be corrected in the final editions.  In this case, perhaps correct formatting might have helped me make some sense of the confusing transitions.   I'm not sure.  

The story was, predictably, dark.  I expected that.  But, I didn't expect to feel that the book was so dark and not really see a point to the story.  Maybe I didn't give it enough time.  (Although I read almost half way through the novel.)  But, I just couldn't really identify the themes that the book's synopsis seemed to indicate.

I had hoped to enjoy this one.  The historical context, the setting in Ireland, the conflict between past and present- this seemed to be the making of a really good read.  But, it was not to be.

I would rate this one R for content and language and give it a gracious 2 stars.

I received a free copy of this book from NetGalley for review purposes.  All opinions expressed are entirely my own.

Leah Courtney / Author & Editor

Has laoreet percipitur ad. Vide interesset in mei, no his legimus verterem. Et nostrum imperdiet appellantur usu, mnesarchum referrentur id vim.

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