My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Time taken to read - < 1 day
Pages - 315
Publisher - Strident
Blurb from Goodreads
TV journalist and media darling Oonagh O'Neil faces danger and chaos when an elderly priest dies on the altar of his Glasgow church. His death comes as she is about to expose the shocking truth behind the closure of a Magdalene Institution.
The Church has already tried to suppress the story. Is someone covering their tracks?
What secrets lie behind the derelict Institution's doors? What sparked the infamous three-day riot that closed t? And what happened to the three 'Maggies' who vowed to stay forever friends?
We open in Glasgow 1958 to a chilling scene in a Magdalene institution, the next chapter flips to present day, the year 2000 and a priest dies on the altar. We are swiftly introduced to Oonagh O'Neil, a TV journalist and favorite with the people who is doing a tv piece on the Magdalene Institution with the help of her friend and younger priest Tom Findlay. Oonagh has relationship issues, particularly her boyfriend being a married man, Tom is having a crisis with his faith and the priest who died on the alter's death may not be as it first appeared.
Oooh this is a busy wee book, the scenes that briefly visit the Magdalene institution are quite upsetting and disturbing. I think mostly because we know, whilst this is a fiction book that these places existed and the thought of these poor women being exploited, beaten and used is heartbreaking. In current events, the younger priest is having faith issues which may not sit well with some readers of a religion background. The issue of infidelity and extramarital sex may also prickle with some audiences, however all that aside we have some other hot topics. Murders, lies, violence, blackmail, extortion and secrets are just some of the themes covered in this story.
A strong debut, (Talbot has written another book although that is non fiction), a page turner and an opening chapter that will have the hair on the back of your neck standing. This is my first time reading this author, I would certainly read more of her work if and when she brings out another. 4/5 for me this time, Penance is available to buy from all good retailers, go check it out.