Vow of Silence by Suzanne Walsh #BookReview #MardleBooks #4.5*

For four young sisters, being left in a church run care home led to a heartbreaking secret
that haunted them all for 50 years.

Suzanne Walsh was a survivor.

She suffered five heart attacks and made it through open heart surgery. But even that pales in comparison to the horrors she faced as a young girl.

Her childhood became the ‘stuff of nightmares’ after her father passed away and her mother, unable to get a job in Ireland, had to seek work in London. So ‘Mammy’ was forced into the heartbreaking decision to put Suzanne and her five siblings into church-run orphanages in Dublin while she worked away. It was just meant to be temporary.

Her life soon became a daily struggle to avoid beatings with canes and rosary beads. Suzanne and the other children worked from dawn until midnight, living on disgusting scraps of food, while the nuns dined on fresh fruit, meat and cakes that the ‘orphans’ had cooked for them. Suzanne tried her best to shield her younger sisters from the terror of these hateful ‘women of God’. But it was only the beginning of their troubles…

Eventually, their mother returned from London, after four years, with enough money to take her children out and the family was reunited. However, too scared to speak out, the children vowed to take the horrors they had experienced at the orphanages to their graves.

What really happened behind those church doors? This is Suzanne’s heartbreaking and touching story.

A Truth Which Needed to be Told!

A truly horrific memoir.

Suzanne was just a wee girl when her Daddy died, leaving her mother in dire financial straits. The only way she could make ends meet was to place her children into the care of the nuns, allowing her to earn money across the water and hopefully be able to all be reunited one day. The loving, caring image which the nuns cultivated publicly was completely different to what they were like when they were left alone with the children. This is Suzanne’s story.

I don’t read stories of abuse; it’s just something I don’t do. However, the tales of the Magdalene Laundries has always niggled at me, so I found it very hard to turn down the offer of a review copy of this book. For anyone with the smallest piece of compassion in their soul – which, as a mother and grandmother I like to think I possess – will cringe in horror at the way these children were maltreated. I have the greatest respect for Suzanne Walsh for speaking out and making sure she wrote this book, and for her daughter Melissa for ensuring it was published. My heart broke for these children and the harsh environment they found themselves a part of, and for their Mother who trusted other women to care for her children little knowing what they were being subjected to. I won’t say I enjoyed this one, but I am glad I read it; these are the things we should all know about. 4.5*.

My thanks to Mel Sambells for my copy of this novel; this is – as always – my honest, original and unbiased review.

Tags: memoir

Author Details

Author Suzanne Walsh was born in Dublin in March 1948.

She had one daughter, Melissa. She lived most of her life in London, but later spent a lot of time in Los Angeles, where Melissa had relocated as a celebrity make-up artist.

It took 10 years for the Ryan Report to investigate and reveal the extent and effects of abuse on the child victims in the nuns’ and priests’ care. Suzanne, who also suffered from Crohn’s Disease from the
years of malnutrition, was one of those victims and decided to tell her heartbreaking story.

In 2018, shortly after completing her manuscript, Suzanne passed away from cancer. She left her book to her daughter, Melissa Walsh, with her wish that one day it would be published.


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