You’d think nothing would surprise me anymore when it comes to morally bankrupt atrocities committed in the name of religion but, well, here we are again. In Small Things Like These, Claire Keegan deftly rips away the cloak of secrecy from Ireland’s Magdalen laundries, where unmarried (mostly very young) pregnant women were whisked away to convents, treated like complete dirt, had their kids stolen away from them, and forced into menial labour for the area locals.
Keegan has a touch that is as light as it is deft, framing this horrific revelation around the story of Bill Furlong, a decent man who has risen above his troubled upbringing to become the town’s lumber baron. Hardworking and charitable, Bill is also naive, and only happens upon the town’s worst kept secret by chance. It is then he must ask what debt he owes to the fate that saved him. Will he will risk everything he has built - his family, his livelihood - to do what he knows is right? Gorgeously wrought, and brimming (but not gratuitously overflowing) with righteous indignation, Small Things Like These is a confronting but important little gem.
Small Things Like These by Claire Keegan
I loved Claire Keegan's Small Things Like These. A small book that captures life in 1980s Ireland, the the pervasive influence of the Catholic Church, and the cruel treatment meted out to young unwed mothers.