I don’t read a lot of non-fiction but I couldn’t resist this book. I have carried out a lot of research on my own family’s history and also some for friends. There are always interesting stories which come up as you dig into a family’s past and I find it quite fascinating. It is especially interesting to find things which have been kept secret in a family for reasons which now seem hard to understand. In this book, the author weaves her own family history into a wonderful story which is part memoir and part social history.
As happens in many families, Maggie Wadey did not know a lot about her mother’s background and it was only in later years that she began to talk about her life. Agnes was from Ireland but beyond that the author knew very little. Through the stories Agnes told, and from her own memories of childhood, Maggie Wadey began to piece together what she could about her mother’s early life. Following her mother’s death, she wanted to know more, to feel a real connection with the Irish side of her family. Travelling to Ireland gave rise to many more questions as she began to uncover secrets within the family.
I thought that the author told her story in an immensely enjoyable and compelling way. Woven into the narrative are her own memories, her mother’s memories, discoveries about her ancestors, a fascinating insight into Irish history and the unravelling of a mystery she didn’t even know was waiting to be solved. Above all, it’s a moving story of an ordinary family which shows that every family’s story can be intriguing and that there are always interesting tales waiting to be discovered.
Thanks to Diana Morgan at Ruth Killick PR for offering me a copy of this book to review. The English Daughter was published by Sandstone Press on 21 July 2016 and you can order a copy online here: The English Daughter
From the back of the book
As a child, writer Maggie Wadey was aware her mother was different from her father and his family, and that the difference was do with her Irishness, but she knew nothing of her Tipperary background. Then, before she died, Agnes Kavanagh began to talk about the past. Gradually, Maggie began to piece together her mother’s early life. But it was only after Agnes’s death that she discovered another story a life and a secret hidden in layers of silence.