The Abandoned by Sharon Thompson has been my first read of 2018, and what a brilliant one!
I got an advance copy from Bloodhound Press and finished it in two sittings.
The main character is Peggy Bowden, a woman in 1950’s Ireland. Peggy has been dealt a poor hand in life, but pulled herself up to train as a midwife. But Ireland has a dark side, controlled by the Catholic Church, and Peggy moves into other things to help downtrodden women, such as selling babies and doing abortions, no one wants to end up in the Magdalen laundries. It’s a gritty read and does cover harsh topics, but yet this was the harsh life for women back then. The Nuns were also selling babies to rich Americans, but in the book it’s only Peggy who gets caught and does time inside.
The book starts once Peggy is out of jail, and sooner or later things start to go wrong again and she is mired up to her neck in different events.
As a character, Peggy is incredibly vivid and real, perhaps not altogether lovable, but definitely unforgettable!
The Abandoned reminds me of an Irish 1950’s version of the Peaky Blinders.
For a debut I found this a highly entertaining novel full of sparkling dialogue with a dark heart but with a touch of humour too.