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Do Penance or Perish: Magdalen Asylums in Ireland Paperback – April 8, 2004
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"She provides valuable information about the nature of Magdalen asylum system in Ireland." --History: Review of Books
"The definitive account of the Magdalen Asylums..." --The Guardian
"Frances Finnegan's pioneering works on poverty and prostitution in Victorian Britain are classics, and so is this beautifully-produced book, the eagerly-awaited fruit of two decades' research. This is what social history should be... This excellent book represents a coming of age for Irish women's history... This is 'nasty' women's history; as feminist historians we will have to find a way of understanding (without excusing) women who perpetrated and perpetuated cruelty and inhumanity." --Women's Studies
"There is much fascinating detail, prompting questions about class, power, and religion... Frances Finnegan, provocatively sympathetic to her subject, has written a book that ascribes significance to lives that were carefully hidden" --Saothar, the Journal of the Irish Labour History Society
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Top Customer Reviews
I was, unfortunately, VERY disappointed. The book is poorly written; the author jumping from one subject to another rather than following any logical pattern. She looks at not only the Magdalen Asylums in Ireland (as the title implies)but 'rescue homes' for prostitutes run by a variety of organizations, and located in both Ireland and England. The main focus of the book (such as it is) is on early to mid-19th century institutions. At that time the asylums and homes were used almost exclusively by prostitutes, and attendence was purely voluntary. (The author notes that most women left after only a few months, unwilling or unable to cope with the strict rules.) The book barely touches on the more recent history of the asylums. (It was mostly in the mid-to-late 20th century that they were inhabited primarily by unwed mothers.)
She was given access to the records of the Congregation of Our Lady of Charity of the Good Shepherd,which dominated the Magdelan system in Ireland for more than a century. Originally a branch of the Order of our Lady of Charity, founded by Saint Mary Euphrasia Pelletier in France in 1835 and dedicated to rescuing fallen women. Finnegan discuss the order as a whole, and then the individual houses in Ireland, comparing them at times with other organizations. She focuses on the last half of the 19th century, although she does briefly discuss the continuation of the system into the 1970s, with the last inmates leaving in the 1990s. Finnegan is disappointed that so few historians are willing to discuss this controversial topic, with most of the literature being autobiographical accounts. Obviously here is a fertile field for oral history. Finnegan has grouped her statistics in tables, mostly towards the end of the book.Read more ›
I think it would have been better if the author had included a sort of "TABLE" at the very end of the book, (which in turn) could have been filled with much of the numerical statistics that were mentioned throughout this actual book .
For me, the information was actually quite interesting , since I had no previous knowledge of any Victorian "work houses" and old "religious homes" for these unfortunate gals.
This book was interesting to me, but again, the flow of the paragraphs were stunted by all the numbers and statistics.
Once again, I think the author could have placed much of the "data" in footnotes & in an Appendix at the very end of the book.... instead of including all of the data within the actual chapters.
I did enjoy the black and white photographs of the Victorian and mid-century women and children that were actually housed in these special "homes" ...I just wish the author had included more photos, but then, I was glad to see at least a few of the antique photos in this book.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
This is a fine and thorough book. I was hoping for more current information but that certainly is not the writer's fault. The details are meticulous.Published 10 months ago by A. Koenig
As a History major I am interested in the Magdalen Laundries that once operated in Ireland. The book came in great condition as described in the ad and the delivery was fast. Read morePublished on November 30, 2013 by Alice Milazzo
I did not care for this book too much, it was more about figures and dates, than about the running/living in the convents. There are much better books, such as "Kathy's Story". Read morePublished on November 18, 2012 by Barbara J. Sears-Gad