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  • review by Paul Burston

Stone Mothers

How do you follow the success of a book like ‘He Said/She Said’? For Erin Kelly, the answer is - with a book about a sinister Victorian mental hospital, the women incarcerated there and the impact of one woman’s actions on two young people and their families.

The story is told from several perspectives. There’s Marianne, who falls in love with local bad boy Jesse before escaping the narrow confines of her small town for a life in London. There’s Helen, who has the Nazareth Hospital closed down for reasons that aren’t immediately apparent. And there’s a terrible secret that binds all three of them together. It’s ‘She Said/He Said/She Said’ - and only by delving into each account in turn do we piece together the full picture.

Kelly is a masterful storyteller. The twists and turns keep you gripped until the very last page. But she does something else, too. She moves you in ways you least expect. I read the last section with my heart in my mouth. Part of me is still inside Nazareth, still appalled at what those women went through and how their terrible suffering echoes down the ages. This is a brilliant, beautiful book - and an important one.

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