Publishers Weekly® Reviews
- Reviewed in: Publishers Weekly, page .
- Review Date: 2016-08-29
- Reviewer: Staff
After 50 years of resentment and grief, unraveled family secrets are rewoven into a bittersweet truth in this poignant debut novel from Irish journalist O’Laughlin. To save her family’s languishing Irish estate, Ella O’Callaghan opens the Ballroom Café against her sister Roberta O’Callaghan’s objections: “Give up now for all our sakes.” The reclusive sisters of Roscarbury Hall haven’t spoken since the late 1950s, living together without speaking, communicating only through written notes. Into this tension walks Debbie Kading, an American woman looking for her biological mother. Ella and Debbie bond over the café and life’s cruel turns. But when Debbie’s search hits a dead end at a local convent, she takes her story to national radio and inadvertently exhumes a near-forgotten Irish adoption scandal. The café and Roscarbury bloom with the publicity, but so does the bitterness between Ella and Roberta, still determined to cling to their grudges and guilt. The truth, like Roscarbury Hall, is at first “a sorry pile... long neglected.” Silence and hope are common threads to both personal and national tragedies in this story. Making use of her experience reporting the actual adoption scandal—in which tens of thousands of babies were sold off by nuns—O’Laughlin metes out revelations, both painful and redeeming, in this warm, patient debut. (Oct.)