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Anne Flosnik is at her best in this harrowing tale of the misery humans can bring down on one another. Historically accurate, it makes real the horrific treatment of women and girls at the hands of the Roman Catholic clergy in Ireland. The story spans roughly 40 years, from 1960 to 2000, in the lives of people crippled by the patriarchal, self serving, sexually repressed, judgemental, inhumane, and unsympathetic attitudes of the RCC (I call it the Roman Catholic Corporation), especially towards its female parishioners. But wait, there is more suffering in store, not only in the cruel fate being faced by one of the two major characters but also because of the incomprehensibly selfish actions of a younger sister toward the elder. There are some light moments to be sure. And there are also many moments of human kindness without which the novel would have been unbearable. The book explores the limits of forgiveness and the cost of holding on to anger and a wish for justice. There are many atmospheric descriptions of the setting and also some great minor characters who not only make the story more interesting but also contribute some humorous moments.. The reason for 4 stars instead of 5 is that I found the trope of the brooches to be very affected and also because of the highly contrived nature of the conclusion. Although it wrapped things up nicely with a bow, did not seem remotely plausible and also seemed to undercut the main themes.
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