It’s a clever title The Abandoned – it works on so many different levels.
On the one hand, it refers to Peggy Bowden’s abandonment by both her father, who was never part of the picture, and her mother, who was committed to an asylum.
Not to mention the local priest who forces her into an abusive marriage.
But it could also be a reference to Peggy’s decision to cross over to the wrong side of the law when she uses her position as the owner of a lucrative maternity home to carry out illegal abortions.
Or, perhaps, the title has something to do with her next career move when she effectively becomes a brothel keeper?
Truly, Peggy is an abandoned creature.
But this is 1950s Dublin and, as Peggy’s mammy used to say: ‘Women always do the best with what they are given.’
Peggy’s no exception but it’s not easy for a woman to make a living and, arguably, every wrong choice she makes is almost forced upon her by her overwhelming drive to survive and better herself.
Author Sharon Thompson, who writes the quirky Woman’s Words column for the Donegal Woman website, evocatively evokes the hypocrisy and double standards of an era when a woman was either a virgin or a vamp.
Her dialogue and her uses of words generally has a lovely Irish cadence and rhythm and in Peggy she has created a flawed but mostly likeable character, who, initially, at least, somehow seems as much sinned against as sinning.
Who can blame her for her determination not to be broken by poverty and abuse?
But as the price exacted on the people who get in her way grows more and more weighty, Peggy finds herself, like her mother, losing control of the world around her.
Billed as a gritty crime drama, I read The Abandoned as an exploration of what happens when a strong woman tries to snatch power from the men who seek to dominate her.
Either way, it’s not a novel for the faint-hearted – there’s a fair bit of violence and, at least one steamy sex scene that I really wish I hadn’t read on the early morning commuter train.
However, The Abandoned is a thought-provoking debut that made me thankful – despite the recent shenanigans at the President’s Club – to live in an age where woman are no longer seen as men’s chattels.
Review by Sue Featherstone.
Available to buy on Amazon.
You can find Sharon on the web: www.sharontwriter.com
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