The Paper Bracelet
Every baby’s bracelet held a mother’s secret…
Inspired by heartrending real events, the gripping new novel from No. 1
bestselling author Rachael English.
Readers of Diane Chamberlain and Kathryn Hughes will love this book.
‘A true storyteller who keeps you turning the pages’ Cathy Kelly
For almost fifty years, Katie has kept a box of secrets.
It dates from her time working as a nurse in a west of Ireland mother and baby home, and contains a notebook with details of the babies and young women she met there. It also holds many of the babies’ identity bracelets.
Following the death of her husband, Katie makes a decision she has long kept at bay. She posts a message on an internet forum, knowing that the information she possesses could help reunite adopted people with their birth mothers.
Soon, the replies are rolling in, and Katie encounters success, failure, heartache and joy as she finds herself in the role of part-detective, part-counsellor – chasing down leads, piecing together stories, and returning many of the bracelets to their original owners.
But there is one bracelet in the box that holds the key to a story that may never be told …
The Paper Bracelet is a gripping and moving story of secrets, lies and a love that never dies.
I was completely gripped by this story from the very first page. Other books on this subject left many questions unanswered for me, and this supplied everything I wanted to know…and much more.
Main character Katie has recently lost her husband after a long and happy marriage. As a young girl in the 1970s, she worked as a nurse in an Irish Mother and Baby home run by nuns. Whilst she was there she secretly kept the paper bracelets from the baby’s wrists which showed a little about the mother and child’s identity. Now grieving, Katie needs a project to focus on and dispel some ghosts from her past. Along with her niece, she begins a mission to reunite adopted children with their birth mothers.
Rachael English brilliantly describes the conditions that the pregnant girls were forced to live and work in. The nuns made the girls feel sinful and gave them no voice when it came to the wellbeing of their babies. They had to work solidly throughout their pregnancies right up to the time of birth. There were no home comforts, no medical help, and no compassion for the mothers. The young women were even forced to stay and work after they had given birth to repay the debt that was outstanding for their care.
Although the girls were not allowed to even speak to each other they found windows of opportunity to share their feelings and incredible bonds were formed. I loved how the writer included these pockets of incredible warmth and companionship between the girls, a complete contrast to the cruelty they received from adults who should have known better.
It’s hard to think that these Mother and Baby homes existed such a short time ago. The hardship inflicted seems more fitting with practices used a century ago. However, it’s important to know that the story is based on factual events and these horrendous establishments genuinely existed. The author has done a great job of piecing together the factual aspects with a captivating story through detailed research and astounding storytelling.
There are stories within stories and multidimensional characters who come to life on the page. This dual timeline novel leans towards many serious issues which are all dealt with incredibly sensitively. Although the book is sad, and the hardships difficult to comprehend, the plot just drives you on as you become incredibly invested in the wellbeing of the characters. There are secrets, deceit, mystery, and a huge twist. Most of all, I think The Paper Bracelet is a story that needs to be told and I can’t recommend it highly enough.
Thank you to Anne Cater from Random Things Tours for the tour invite and copy of the book, which I have reviewed honestly.
About The Author
Rachael English is a bestselling novelist and presenter on Ireland’s most popular radio show, Morning Ireland. During more than twenty years as a journalist, she has worked on most of RTÉ Radio’s leading current affairs programmes, covering a huge range of national and international stories.