Book review: The Rosary Garden by Nicola White

One of the absolute pleasures of book blogging is when someone send a ‘new-to-me’ author my way. And this is exactly what happened when Miranda Jewess sent me a copy of The Rosary Garden by Nicola White, published this week by Viper.

Set in Dublin in the mid 80’s, a teenage girl finds the body of a new born baby in the grounds of her Convent School. Just on the cusp of leaving a life filled with restriction, her future shimmering ahead of her Ali Hogan is suddenly pulled back into a past she had almost forgotten. And it threatens to hold her there.

Because this isn’t the first dead baby that Ali has discovered. Years before, hard on the heels of the death of her father Ali found a scrap of a newborn on Christmas Day in her Aunt’s farmhouse. Concealed from view then, it hasn’t been spoken of since.

Now current events are stirring up the past, and it’s ripples are felt throughout a number of close knit huddles. Through the Convent, through Ali’s own family and friendship group, and through the tight community in the home town of Buleen.

But the truth is hard to come by, for this Ireland of the 1980’s, where the voice of the Catholic Church rings loud, where illegitimate babies are not discussed and alternative solutions need to be found. But never divulged. And for Detective Vincent Swan these issues are very close to home.

This is a case that threatens to run away with the lives of all involved and suddenly Ali’s world is turned upset down, as her role in the tragedy comes under the harshest of spotlights. What exactly is Ali’s role in this crime and how can anyone be persuaded to break their silence?

In this novel it is true the past meets the present but the issues remain the same. Within the narrative we find a sensitive, authentic exploration of the women’s rights. With skill the issues of contraception, the intervention and power of the church, societal pressures and so much more are woven into a compelling and compulsive novel.

So much more than a crime novel, this book tackles difficult issues head on and will open up debate. Highly recommended.

Rachel x

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