Mary McNamara's life in rural western Ireland is that of a typical young teenager until one day while she is on a walk on their land, her father violates the most sacred bond between parent and child and rapes her. Unable to tell anyone, she keeps the secret, except for her diary entries. When the abuse results in an unwanted pregnancy, it precipitates a national crises when she is taken to England for an abortion.
Based on real events, this novel accurately portrays how a Catholic nation can be inflamed over a cause such at this even while the morality of the citizens is in decline as evidenced by premarital sex, living in sin, affairs, and out of wedlock births.
While I enjoyed the story of Mary's plight, the novel itself was often times confusing with so many characters and shifts in focus so that after awhile you sort of lost track of who was who. By the end I was thinking it could have been told in a much more straightforward manner in less pages.
Mary's father, James, the obvious villan in this book, is a tragic figure. He seems a contradictory character, gentle with his livestock, proud of his daughter's accomplishments at school, and missing her presence, even while he violates her. Without a wife to serve his needs, it seems Mary is to fulfill that role on all counts. In the end it is hard to feel much more than pity for this pathetic nature.
Mary, for being all of fourteen, seems stronger than either of her parents in enduring the many hardhsips and allowing herself to be used by different fractions for their own purposes. It is hard to imagine what her life would be like afterwards, though the last pages try to give us a glimpse of her new life.