Sunday, 12 August 2018

UNFORGIVABLE by Sharon Robards

4 out of 5 stars

On Amazon UK
On Goodreads

How I discovered this book: bought after reading this review by Tom Williams; he'd told me how good the book was.

Genre: 1960s drama, about unmarried mothers, and adoption.

Set Australia, this novel is about Sylvia, who, in 1966, is sent by her mother to a Catholic home for unmarried mothers, her baby to be given up for adoption as soon as it is born.

Sylvia resists the often mentally brutal treatment by the nuns, in the belief that her life, her body and her baby should be her own to do with as she pleases, and that her boyfriend, Tommy, will stick by her.  The book is written from alternating third person points of view, that of Sylvia and a young nun, Sister Gregory, who is confused about her committment to the life she has chosen.  Both scenarios work well against the backdrop of the societal changes that were taking place in the 1960s.

The book made me feel a frustrated sort of anger, mostly about how organised religion is used as a method of control, the guilt and self-doubt it induces and the misery caused by these establishments; I felt sure that the author knew her stuff, and I know the reality can be a lot worse than in this story.  Sylvia's plight was heartbreaking, and I wanted so much for things to work out for her; she is so well-written.  Sister Gregory's dilemmas interested me less, but that's just a personal viewpoint; she was equally well-drawn, but I would have enjoyed it more if there had been less about her and more about Sylvia's circumstances.

One of the other 'waiting girls' at the hospital, Kim, is a secondary character in the story, and is the focus of both the prologue and epilogue - in the 1990s, when she is reunited with her adopted child.  I could see why this was done, though it was a bit of anticlimax as I wanted to know what happened to Sylvia, and to a lesser extent Sister Gregory, but this remained a mystery.  On the whole, though, I'd most definitely recommend this book if this is a subject you'd like to read about.  Unless the whole religion bit makes you too angry.  But it's good.  And I do hope Sylvia was okay.  😕

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