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…
A fast paced ‘mystery’ set around the heartbreaking background story of Mother and Baby homes of the 1950/60’s.
The two main characters Ivy, who becomes pregnant at a young age in the 1950’s and Samantha, a journalist and also a young mother herself in 2017 are followed in the story that flips back and forth through times and characters. The chapters are short, named and dated and flow nicely through the story line making it easy to keep track. Other characters are introduced and with a letter dating back to 1959 that Samantha finds in the procession of her Nan the story unfolds and Sam uses her journalists powers to find out what it all means.
This book is based on real life stories of work house type Mother and Baby homes, managed by nuns enforcing young pregnant girls to work in hard, horrible conditions, in this case within a laundry. Only, in the end, to have to sign their child up for adoption agreeing never to try and track them down at a later time. This story therefore may not be to everyone’s tastes. I did find some parts of this story quiet upsetting, particularly towards the end when we learn of what is taking place up in the attic, and also what we learn to be the reason behind the build up of Methane under the building.
It is also however a nicely written, fast paced mystery, where as you read you can see how everyone is somehow going to be linked together but don’t find out exactly how until the end.
I was kindly sent an early copy of this book by Phoebe Swinburn Publicity Manager at Headline. @Phoebe_Swinburn
The author Emily Gunnis previously worked in TV drama and lives in Brighton with her young family. She is one of the four daughters of Sunday Times bestselling author Penny Vincenzi.