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In a crumbling mansion in a small Irish village in County Wicklow, two elderly sisters, Ella and Roberta O'Callaghan, live alone in Roscarbury Hall with their secrets, memories, and mutual hatred. Long estranged by a dark family tragedy, the two communicate only by terse notes. But when the sisters are threatened with bankruptcy, Ella defies Roberta's wishes and takes matters into her own hands, putting her baking skills to good use and converting the mansion's old ballroom into a café.
Much to Roberta's displeasure, the café is a hit and the sisters are reluctantly drawn back into the village life they abandoned decades ago. But gossip has a long life, and Ella finds herself reliving painful memories when Debbie, an American woman searching for her birth mother, begins working at the café. As the local convent comes under scrutiny, the O'Callaghan sisters find themselves caught up in an adoption scandal that dates back to the 1960s and spreads all the way across the Atlantic Ocean. Only by overcoming their enmity and facing up to the past can they face the future together - but can they finally put their differences behind them? An emotionally rich story with flashes of humor, gossip, and tragedy, The Secrets of Roscarbury Hall is a moving debut novel of love both lost and found.
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By Gail N. on 01-30-18
Devastating commentary on the RCC in Ireland
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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