My Rating: 🌟🌟🌟1/2
I am thrilled to take part in the blog tour for Theresa Talbot's heart-wrenching novel The Lost Children, a crime novel with a historical background that gives a voice to the many women who were incarcerated in one of the terrible Magdalen Insitutions. For excerpts, author interviews and more, make sure to stop by other blogs participating in this blog tour (schedule attached).
First in a gripping new thriller series featuring investigative journalist Oonagh O'Neil. Perfect for fans of Broadchurch.
TV journalist and media darling Oonagh O’Neil can sense a sinister coverup from the moment an elderly priest dies on the altar of his Glasgow church. Especially as his death comes as she is about to expose the shocking truth behind the closure of a Magdalene Institution. The Church has already tried to suppress what happened to decades of forgotten women. Is someone also covering their tracks?
DI Alec Davies is appointed to investigate the priest's death. He and Oonagh go way back. But what secrets lie behind the derelict Institution's doors? What sparked the infamous three-day riot that closed it? And what happened to the girls that survived the institution and vowed to stay friends forever?
From Ireland to Scotland.
Mysteries linking present crimes to dark chapter in human history have always had a strange appeal for me, perhaps because it is interesting how the echoes of the past still reverberate and affect people today. In The Lost Children, Talbot bravely tackles one of the darkest chapters in Ireland and Scotland’s history – that of the Magdalen institutes, asylums for “fallen women”, girls pregnant out of wedlock or troublesome for society or the church in other ways. It is frightening to know that there were several hundred of these terrible institutions in England alone, and that the idea was so appealing to society that several other countries soon followed suit! Although I have read previous novels with similar themes, Talbot has a very unique voice and seamlessly weaves her tale into the present in a way that was both intriguing and chilling.
As expected, the theme of the Magdalen women and their lost babies was heartbreaking and infuriating, especially knowing that these events were still occurring in living history. According to the history books, the Magdalen Institution in Glasgow operated unchecked until 1958! Irene’s fate made me want to weep and wail in anguish, with anger welling at the unfairness of it all and the smug attitude of other characters in regards to her plight. It is always a credit to an author for being able to evoke such a visceral reaction in her readers!
I liked Oonagh O’Neill, Talbot’s gutsy and complex heroine – even though her taste in men was terrible! Perhaps this was one of the reasons the plight of the Magdalen women was so close to her heart. Unlike our typical fictional detective, Oonagh is an investigative journalist who is not easily intimidated or put off her scent. With a sometimes abrasive and secretive manner that hints at secrets of her own, Oonagh makes for an interesting main protagonist for other books to come in the series. I also expect to see her friend Tom back in future books, who provides quite a unique POV that made for interesting reading, giving the subject manner.
Talbot’s career as a journalist stays her in good stead as she provides a solid background to her story, and her passion for her subject is obvious in the sensitivity with which she presents Irene’s chapters. In an interview about her novel, Talbot stated that she finds it distressing that no one was ever brought to trial over the injustices inflicted on the innocent women incarcerated in the Magdalen Institutions, and that society turned a blind eye on the crimes committed to them. Even though her characters are fictional, she has used her book to give those victims a voice and to bring their plight to our attention. The paragraph about baby Patricia had me in tears and I felt like my heart was bleeding! Due to the subject matter, The Lost Girls is a somewhat sad and bleak story that prompts reflection about crimes committed in the past and how they affect generations to come. Tying this historical component to a present day murder gave it an extra twist that lovers of crime fiction will enjoy.
Whilst somewhat bleak and tragic, The Lost Children will appeal to lovers of crime with a historical context and readers who enjoy a strong female protagonist with a passion for justice and the courage to stand up for the underdog.
About the author:
Theresa Talbot is a BBC broadcaster and freelance producer. A former radio news editor, she also hosted The Beechgrove Potting Shed on BBC Radio Scotland, but for many she will be most familiar as the voice of the station's Traffic & Travel. Late 2014 saw the publication of her first book, This Is What I Look Like, a humorous memoir covering everything from working with Andy Williams to rescuing chickens and discovering nuns hidden in gardens. She's much in demand at book festivals, both as an author and as a chairperson.
Twitter: @Theresa_TalbotFacebook: Theresa Talbot