Sunday 4 March 2018

The Abandoned - Sharon Thompson

Peggy Bowden has not had an easy life. As a teenager, her mother was committed to an asylum and then a local priest forced her into an abusive marriage. But when her husband dies in an accident Peggy sees an opportunity to start again and trains as a midwife.

In 1950s Dublin it is not easy for a woman to make a living and Peggy sees a chance to start a business and soon a lucrative maternity home is up and running. 

But when Peggy realizes that the lack of birth control is an issue for women, she uses their plight as a way to make more money. Very soon Peggy is on the wrong side of the law. 

What makes a woman decide to walk down a dark path? Can Peggy ever get back on the straight and narrow? Or will she have to pay for her crimes?

Set against the backdrop of Ireland in the 1950’s The Abandoned tells the story of one woman’s fight for survival and her journey into the underbelly of a dangerous criminal world.

What did I think?

I took too much notice of the title and the cover of this book before reading.  I think if both elements had been removed I would have enjoyed it a whole lot more, but I kept wondering when the abandoned babies were going to come into the story.  Even at 80% through the book, I was still wondering what the cover and the title had to do with the story.  Taking that out of the equation, it was actually a really good story with a strong female character that Martina Cole would have been proud to have created.

Peggy Bowden has been in jail for selling babies and why not, it's only what the church has been doing in Ireland for many years.  Peggy now runs a whore house and she has a lucrative sideline of offering illegal abortions.  In typical Irish fashion, the prose is both lyrical and amusing, and I just have to share my favourite passage:

"I wouldn't be sitting in a hellhole with a dead woman in my house, prostitutes upstairs, a sergeant in my kitchen and a halfwit in my bath."

It sounds a bit like a Benny Hill sketch but trust me, it was deadly serious.  Looking back over the book now, I feel like Peggy Bowden would have given Tony Soprano a run for his money.  The Abandoned is like the Irish Sopranos and Sharon Bowden is to Dublin what Martina Cole is to London: both have tough female protagonists that are not only unafraid to wear the trousers, they're willing to kill for it.

Although not the book I was expecting from the title, blurb and cover, I really enjoyed it in the end.  I guarantee that all Martina Cole fans will love The Abandoned; Peggy is tough, gutsy and a real rough diamond.  I certainly wouldn't like to cross her!

I chose to read an ARC and this is my honest and unbiased opinion.

My rating:

Buy it from Amazon

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