Hello everyone and welcome to my 11th book review!! This review is about The Magdalen Girls by V.S. Alexander, a 292 page book so a very quick and easy read. Special shout out to Kensington books for giving me and advanced copy of the book! Review time!
Overview: It’s 1962 in Dublin Ireland, within the beautiful city lies the convent of the Sisters of the Holy Redemption. In the redemption lies the magdalen laundries. Once a place of refuge now turned into a terrible working house. Where some of the fellow magdalens or better known as inmates are fallen women: unwed mothers, prostitutes, or petty criminals better known to the nuns as “sinners”. However most of the women at the Sisters of Holy Redemption for false accusations of being “sinners”: being too pretty, too independent, or too passionate in life. And now the Sisters of the Holy Redemption are receiving two new inmate “sinners”: Teagan Tiernan and Nora Craven.
Teagan is a sixteen year old girl who was sent to the Sisters of the Holy Redemption by her family because her natural beauty provoked the lustful intentions of a young priest. Nora is also sixteen and has become too much of a brash independent girl for her parents to deal with. Within the Sister of the Holy Redemption Teagan and Nora and the “sinners” before them lose their old life, given a new name, and stripped of their freedom from the outside world or their own choices. They can’t even leave the Sisters of the Holy Redemption even when they turn 18, they must have someone sign them away from that place. Teagan and Nora soon become great friends trying to scheme and plan their way to get out of that horrible place while dealing with agonizing labor and inflections of cruel dehumanizing punishments from the nuns who run the place. Will Teagan and Nora make it out or will they break and become hollow magdalens like the rest of the girls before them?
My Opinion: I really enjoyed this book for a multitude of reasons, but I do give it a 3/5 stars. V.S. has a wonderful, fluid writing style. One scene would flow into the next never leaving me to question what happened and how did the story get to where it was. The pacing was just absolutely amazing, V.S. never spent too much time on one scene. Which made me never really get bored of the book, and it also didn’t make the story feel rushed at all.
The beginning was amazing, I loved that the reader actually gets to read the plot of how Teagan and Nora ended up in the Sisters of the Holy Redemption. Instead of just them already being in the convent telling each other their stories for back ground plot for the reader. The reader really gets a perspective of Teagan and Nora living their good lives to being forced into something awful. The middle of the book was great as well: seeing Teagan and Nora adjust to their new life and how they were struggling to keep their will strong to get out of this horrible place. V.S. did a great job showing how time can affect the human spirit. The ending however felt a little supersaturated and stretched out for the plot. It wasn’t bad but, I felt V.S could have excluded a few things. However, I liked how it ended.
I loved the characters they were easy to relate to and sympathize with especially Teagan, I admired her fighting spirit and courage. I loved Nora’s rebellious attitude towards the nuns and the convent, she was such a bad ass punk! But as mentioned before how time can affect the human spirit it was great to see what they were becoming from being trapped in the Sisters of Holy Redemption and other challenges they had to face in the book.
I very much enjoyed the subject matter as well, not just as a historian but also as a reader. The subject of the laundry reformatories is a fascinating yet very tragic. I don’t know if America had anything like the laundry reformatories, or just the regular mental reformatories but they were popular in Europe. But it is a subject I would love to further research. Plus this is a subject that definitely should be brought to attention not just in Europe but all over the world. It’s a very sad subject to lose your freedom and have your life dramatically altered for the worse by someone you trusted and loved.
I defiantly recommend The Magdalin Girls to everyone because it is such a fascinating subject with great characters. It’s a quick good read that depicts the fighting spirit in women!