Today I am beyond excited to bring you my review of the new release from Irish Writer Rachael English. Familiar to many of us as a radio presenter on RTE Radio One, Rachael English has been very busy writing her third novel, The American Girl.
Described as ‘a heart-warming and enthralling story about mothers and daughters, love and cruelty and , ultimately, the struggle for acceptance‘, The American Girl is all that and more…
Just published by Hachette Ireland, I was thrilled to receive my copy from Rachael English. My review is completely voluntary and as always very honest.
Please do continue reading for my full thoughts on this marvellous book….
From the Cover:
Boston 1968. Rose Moroney is seventeen, smart, spirited – and pregnant. She wants to marry her boyfriend. Her ambitious parents have other plans. She is sent to Ireland, their birthplace, to deliver her daughter in a Mother and Baby home – and part with her against her will.
Dublin 2013. Martha Sheeran’s life has come undone. Her marriage is over, and her husband has moved on with unsettling speed. Under pressure from her teenage daughter, she starts looking for the woman who gave her up for adoption more than forty years before.
As her search leads her to the heart of long-buried family secrets, old flame Paudie Carmody – now a well-known broadcaster -, re-enters the frame, casting new light on past circumstances
From Boston to rural Ireland; from Dublin back to Boston, The American Girl is a heart-warming and enthralling story about mothers and daughters, love and cruelty and, ultimately, the struggle for acceptance – and the embrace of new horizons.
Every so often as a bookblogger, you come across a novel that leaves a mark on you. The American Girl is one such novel.
I knew from reading the back cover that this was a book that had all the ingredients of a wonderful read and I was correct. Taking the reader on a journey through a time, not that long ago in our history, where young girls were hidden away in shame, this is a book that will strike a chord very close to home for many families in Ireland and across the globe.
The American Girl tells us the story of Rose Moroney. Born in the early 1950’s in Boston, Rose grew up the youngest daughter of Ed and Grace, both emigrants from Ireland, Rose’s life was supposedly mapped out for her. But as is often the case, the world had something different in mind for Rose. After meeting and falling head over heels in love with Joe Brennan, Rose discovers she is pregnant. Joe Brennan was not of sufficient social standing for either parent and it’s not long before Rose is forced to pack her bags and is sent across the Atlantic to a mother & baby home in the West of Ireland.
The year was 1968. Ireland was a very religious country at the time and there were many girls packed off to these places of incarceration ‘for their own good’. For many of us, it is hard to believe that such horror existed and that young girls would be closeted away for the duration of their pregnancy, with their babies taken from their bosoms within days of their birth.
Rose Moroney became one of those girls. Her story reflects many a true story, where today people have hidden lives that our society refused to recognise. I listened to Rachael English give an interview earlier this morning on Today with SOR (If you missed it, I have set up a link to the RTE Radio podcast which you can download and listen to HERE ) Rachael spoke of the depth of research she undertook for this novel and reflected that she may have delved too deep and found out perhaps too much. Excellent interview might I add!!
When back in Boston, leaving her baby behind having been adopted, Rose’s life took many twists and turns but it’s not until nearly forty years later that the shell she had built around herself begins to crack.
Dublin 2013 and Martha Sheeran makes a decision that will permanently change the direction of her life. Recently separated, Martha is feeling lost within herself and with the encouragement of her daughter Evanne and best friend Cat, Martha begins a search for the woman who let her go many years back.
Martha’s character is so familiar to me in many ways as we were both from the 80’s generation when we thought we were so cool!! Life consisted of music, clothes, hair and boys…not so different to now I guess!! But Martha always felt something was missing. It must be very scary to not know where you came from and Martha decides to dig a little deeper.
The American Girl, while based on the fictional character of Rose Moroney, is the story of one too many young girls in our past. In this sensitive portrayal of Rose, Rachael English has captured the tragedy and horror of such an inhumane act, in both a heart-wrenching and very poignant manner.
On a personal level, I am a mother to two beautiful young ladies and I cannot begin to imagine the pain inflicted on all these fragile women.
The American Girl is a remarkable read with a very captivating story at it’s core.
You will laugh at the conversations and descriptions of some of the characters and you will shed a tear at the moments when the reality of the situation hits you.
Purchase Link ~ The American Girl
Rachael English is a novelist and presenter on Ireland’s most popular radio show, Morning Ireland.
During more than twenty years as a journalist, she has worked on most of RTE Radio’s leading current affairs programmes, covering a huge range of national and international stories.
The American Girl is her third novel.
On Twitter @EnglishRachael